June 30 – Happy Birthday Josh Beekman

554218He is the absolute best football lineman to ever come out of Amsterdam. He is the only Amsterdam player to earn first team All American honors with a Division I football team. He is the only Amsterdam native to play or start for a team in the NFL and he was a Coach’s dream to boot. I’ve never met any one, a coach, teacher, teammate, friend or fan who had a negative thing to say about Josh Beekman. Despite his intimidating physical size (6 feet 1 inch tall, 320 pounds) and celebrity status as a high schooler, I’ve been told this young man was  kind and considerate to all who crossed his path with the notable exception of the opponents he manhandled on the gridiron. I will never forget how after every game, this kid would gather teammates, coaches, opposing players and anyone else who would join him in the middle of the playing field for his post game prayer. I know that warmed the heart of Valerie, his very proud Mom.

Beekman played five years of Varsity football for the Rugged Rams, beginning in 1997, the year Pat Liverio replaced Frank Derrico as the program’s head coach. Though the teams Beekman played with never won a state title, they were great squads nonetheless and Beekman was of course a key reason. He was literally a man playing among boys. It wasn’t just his size, he had outstanding technique and footwork as well. He credits his dad Charles, who was a former AHS lineman and coach, with helping him develop both.

He was the first player in history to make the Albany Times-Union All Star team four times. He was named to the 2001 Prep Star High School All American team. He played magnificently on both sides of the ball during his AHS days but when Boston College gave him a scholarship to play for their prestigious school, his career as a defensive player was over.

After being redshirted his first season at BC he spent the next four years carving out one of the most impressive offensive line careers in the school’s history. After a solid first season as a backup, Beekman became a starter in his second and emerged as a leader in the Eagles locker room. He made the All ACC second team as a junior and as a senior in 2006, he earned AP first-team All-America honors and the Scanlan Award, which is the highest honor bestowed on a Boston College football player.

I remember the buzz going through Amsterdam on the eve of the 2007 NFL Draft. Some experts had Beekman getting picked as early as the late first round. Though it wouldn’t end up happening until the 4th round, when the Chicago Bears made Josh the 130th player chosen, his entire hometown celebrated the culmination of this young man’s incredible journey.

He went on to play three years for the Bears and started in all 16 games during his second season in Chicago. The Bears released him toward the end of the 2010 Exhibition season and after playing that year in the United Football League and failing in successive tryouts with the Colts and Jaguars, Beekman’s playing days were over and he went into collegiate coaching. Josh married his wife Peggy in 2009. She also graduated from Boston College.

Josh turns 36 years old today and looking back, you have to admit, he’s had a hell of a ride as a football player. Today, he is back at his alma mater, Boston College, where he serves as Director of Football Initiatives. Happy Birthday Mr. Beekman.

Josh shares his birthday with this former Amsterdam resident who wrote eloquently of Amsterdam’s past.

 

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