Falcon career comes full circle

Glendale News Press

Although his official obligations will wrap up today, Jim Beckenhauer doesn't plan to forget his six-decade affiliation with Crescenta Valley High.

Having been a student, teacher, coach and athletic director, Beckenhauer's memories as a Falcon will continue to flow as he begins his retirement. Trips around the country and numerous hours spent on golf courses around the region will be a part of Beckenhauer's new journey.

"It's all been great," Beckenhauer said. "I bleed a lot of Falcon blue and I've been real fortunate because so many people have been great to me and treated me so well.

"Having been an athlete, teacher, coach and athletic director, I'm proud of the way things have been done through the years at CV."

Beckenhauer got a great deal done during his tenure at Crescenta Valley. He starred in baseball and football before graduating in 1966 and moving on to Glendale Community College.

Beckenhauer then excelled at quarterback for Glendale college, where he passed for 2,340 yards and was a two-time All-Western State Conference member. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University and a master's degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University.

But, Crescenta Valley High always tugged at Beckenhauer's heart strings.

Beckenhauer sought to return to Falcon athletics, where he could possibly launch a career in some capacity and teach in the classrooms where he was once a student.

Then-Crescenta Valley varsity football Coach Gordon Warnock gave Beckenhauer his first coaching job in 1974 as co-coach of the school's junior varsity football team.

"I knew this was where I belonged because it's where I got started," Beckenhauer said. "I learned a lot of things while playing sports at CV, including how to learn to play quarterback.

"Then I went to GCC and they helped me a lot. There was just something about being able to come back to CV and help people out and I wanted to do the same for the people who helped me because tradition is something that's important and I wanted to build on that."

Beckenhauer eventually succeeded Warnock as varsity coach, a position he held from 1985-92. Under Beckenhauer, the Falcons went 41-42-2.

In his last season on the sidelines, the Falcons went 11-2 and advanced to the CIF Southern Section semifinals before suffering a 14-7 loss to Los Alamitos.

"It was exciting to see how the kids played," said Beckenhauer, whose team defeated powerhouse Hart in a quarterfinal contest. "We had some lean years, but we also had some good teams that were capable of doing damage.

"To get to the semifinals in my last year was a high point for me because we had a special team. We were not real big, but we had a lot of good players and we had one of the top defenses in the CIF. We were aggressive and fast."

Beckenhauer handed over the coaching reigns to Alan Eberhart for the start of the 1993 campaign.

With Beckenhauer through with coaching, then-Crescenta Valley Principal Gary Talbert asked Beckenhauer if he could take over the athletic directing duties from Bob Canfield — for one semester. Instead of coaching, Beckenhauer learned the CIF by-laws, planned out the schedules and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the sports department.

One semester turned into 12 years, where he also handled the role of chairperson for the physical education department until 2007.

"I had enough with coaching because it took up a lot of time and I was anxious to do something else," Beckenhauer said. "Bob went up to the school administration and Gary asked me to take over.

"I didn't know much about it and I told him I'd do it for a semester. After that, we never talked about it and I guess Gary maybe knew that I would like continuing it."

Canfield, a Glendale High graduate and a former Crescenta Valley baseball coach, said Beckenhauer had the organizational skills to handle the job.

"He was around me all the time when I was [athletic director]," Canfield said. "He stepped in and the transition was seamless.

"When I was the athletic director, I learned that you are in a leadership role and that you need certain people who can lead, trust and can count on. Jim showed he could handle being a leader."

Ken Biermann, who served as athletic director at Crescenta Valley from 1973-83 before becoming principal from 1988-95, said Beckenhauer provided stability throughout the athletic department.

Biermann added school pride was the determining factor that made Beckenhauer succeed.

"He grew up with the school and the school grew up with him," Biermann said. "He was strictly committed to all of the teams and that the coaches and players did things the right way.

"He took plenty of pride in being a committed leader and tried to do so by being as fair as you could."

Dennis Gossard, who coached the school's football team from 1977-78, said Beckenhauer proved to be the backbone of the athletic department.

"I've know Jim since he was 13 and I don't think I've seen a more competitive person that I've met," Gossard said. "I begged him for years to get back into coaching and I'm saddened by the fact that he didn't coach longer or more.

"I've gone to him and got his opinions on different things. He's going to be missed and there's a big hole to fill."

Visits to different parts of the country and golf courses will now occupy part of Beckenhauer's schedule, though he said he'll still attend some Crescenta Valley sporting events.

"I don't think it will be strange having retired," Beckenhauer said. "I'm ready to retire.

"I'll still be around because I'm proud of what we were able to do."

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