As notable athletes from this area go, Don Beebe ranks high on the list.
The Kaneland graduate rose from obscurity to enjoy a memorable NFL career as a lightning-fast receiver, complete with six appearances in Super Bowl games.
Upon his retirement, Beebe returned to the area and settled in as football coach at tiny Aurora Christian High School. He certainly made a name for himself – again – during his decade guiding the Eagles before stepping down as head coach last week. Beebe is expected to remain on as an assistant coach under the Eagles’ new coach, his younger brother, Dave. Beebe wanted to free up time for other pursuits, especially a movie project based on his underdog, life story and Christian values. He also wants to more closely support the college football career of his son, Chad Beebe, at Northern Illinois.
His 10 seasons at Aurora Christian made it clear that Beebe might be an even better coach than he was a player. The Eagles went 97-26 under Beebe’s stewardship, winning IHSA Class 3A state championships in 2011 and 2012.
As impressive as Beebe’s win-loss ledger was, he frequently spoke about connecting with players on a spiritual level as his main priority, a natural fit at a school like Aurora Christian.
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Beebe’s presence at Aurora Christian, especially as the school encountered major financial duress in recent years. Beebe’s name recognition and the positive publicity the football program generated undoubtedly helped the school remain viable by making Aurora Christian a more attractive destination for prospective students, athletes or otherwise.
Beebe won’t be a head coach anymore, but we have no doubt his leadership skills will continue to make a difference in the years to come. Kaneland, Aurora Christian and the surrounding area can be proud to call Don Beebe one of our own.