Chad Beebe will close his three-year varsity football career at Aurora Christian without having made it through an entire season healthy.
The way his dad sees it, his response to that adversity is a major part of what made his son’s career so great.
Chad Beebe, a senior wide receiver, enters today’s IHSA Class 3A state semifinal against Sterling Newman as the Eagles’ all-time top wideout, but it’s not the flashy statistics that have Eagles coach Don Beebe admiring his son’s high school career most.
“I told him that really doesn’t mean anything,” Don Beebe said. “What means something is your resolve of who you are as a kid, to come back from those types of injuries and stay positive and, when you do come back, you’re ready.”
From a broken foot as a sophomore to a pair of collarbone injuries as a junior to a broken arm that cost him most of this regular season, Chad Beebe has winced his way through a productive run with the Eagles.
Chad Beebe’s athleticism, route-running and receiving instincts are high caliber, as evidenced by the football scholarship he commanded from Northern Illinois. As one of the smallest guys on the field each week, though, durability has been another matter for the 5-foot-9, 167-pounder.
“I’m sure that has something to do with it, but I guess I do find myself in the wrong spot at the wrong time,” Chad Beebe said. “But God’s timing is perfect, so things happen for a reason. I understand that.”
Chad Beebe played in all but one game his sophomore year despite suffering a broken foot in training camp that he didn’t tell his dad about until the sixth week of the season.
Last year, a broken collarbone leading up to the season and a subsequent re-injury of the collarbone in the state semifinals relegated Chad Beebe to decoy status during the Eagles’ state championship victory against Mt. Carmel at the University of Illinois.
Chad Beebe played less than 10 snaps before his dad pulled him from the title game.
Chad Beebe’s injury-marred sophomore and junior seasons made it almost intolerable when, in the second half of a Week 4 rout against Wheaton Academy this season, he broke his left arm. Don Beebe called that injury, which threatened Chad’s senior season after another offseason of rigorous training, “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to handle as a father.”
But it was Don Beebe’s own history of injuries from his decorated NFL playing career that helped him convey to Chad that, if he remained determined, his day would come.
That appears to be happening now.
Chad Beebe has racked up more than 100 receiving yards in two of the three Eagles playoff wins despite Aurora Christian featuring its punishing ground game more than in past seasons. Playing in only seven games this season – including the playoffs – the Eagles’ all-time receptions leader leads this year’s team with 53 catches for 870 yards and 13 TDs.
On game days, he’s somehow able to put his injury-riddled past out of mind and focus on scorching secondaries.
“I think what makes him a really good wideout is his ability to make a guy miss,” Don Beebe said. “He’s hard to cover in a 1-on-1 situation. He can really make a guy miss. He knows how to set up a guy and get his hips turned one way, and then make a cut off of that.”
Chad Beebe, who returned from a five-game absence for the opening round of the playoffs against Raby, said his senior season has been made all the more memorable because of his close bond with first cousin Ryan McQuade, the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
“A lot of guys aren’t able to say that – it’s pretty neat,” Chad Beebe said. “I know last year, Grayson and Noah Roberts are brothers ... they were saying how neat it was being on the same field as brothers. I can correlate that with me and Ryan being cousins, so it’s pretty cool.”
When Chad Beebe removes his Eagles helmet for the final time – whether that comes today, or potentially after winning back-to-back state titles next week – resilience and toughness will likely overshadow considerable skill as his legacy at Aurora Christian.
His dad is awfully proud of that.
“I don’t want to teach my son to look into the past,” Don Beebe said. “Look into tomorrow, into the future.”