SHINGLE SPRINGS — Ponderosa High’s new varsity boys head basketball coach Andy Beal has a passion for the sport that runs deep. Given the choice between a knock-down, drag-out intra-county battle with Oak Ridge at the Bruins’ gymnasium or anything else, his pick is simple.
“That’s my most favorite place to be — the atmosphere is electric, the tradition and of course the fact I love basketball. I told someone once that if it was tickets to the Super Bowl or a Bruins-Trojans game at the same time, I think I’d pass on the Super Bowl,” Beal said.
Beal is no stranger to the Ponderosa program — his involvement on the sidelines traces back to the 1999-2000 season. His coaching resume is extensive — numerous AAU teams and even a two-year stint at Rolling Hills Middle School. He started assisting at the varsity level in ’01.
“I have a strong attachment. Ponderosa is the perfect school with the perfect kids and I wanted an opportunity to coach at the varsity level,” Beal said.
As the 12th head coach in the school’s history, Beal steps to the forefront to follow in the footsteps of his three sons, Ryan, Russell and Rhett, who all came though the program as impact players who helped shape Ponderosa basketball.
They didn’t stop there: Ryan went on to play two years at Sierra College, passed on opportunities to continue his playing career away from home and recently married Kristen Edmonson, his Lady Bruin counterpart at point guard when both played in Shingle Springs; Rhett currently plays at Point Loma Nazarene University where he was an all-conference selection last season. Russell, who chose not to play in college, will graduate from Chico in a matter of days.
To say the Beals are a basketball family is an understatement.
“Each (Ryan, Russell, Rhett) had a basketball waiting in their cribs when they came home from the hospital so they never had a chance,” said Andy, whose three sons all played for Dave Millhollin. “As a Ponderosa parent, it was a great experience having a front row seat and I still get to have that with Rhett.”
Andy actually took over late last season after Millhollin resigned. Under Millhollin’s lead, Andy helped mold teams that accounted for nearly 200 wins, several league titles and a much coveted appearance at Arco Arena for the ’08 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
“It was incredible what we were able to do, what a run. Our possession offense/position defense was an unconventional style that required a lot of sacrifice by the players. Several times we had the No. 1 defense in the state. It was attention to detail, offseason work, families buying in and the players’ skills and unselfishness that made it all work,” Andy said.
Under Andy’s direction, the Bruins want to change little or nothing defensively but Ponderosa fans can expect something new on the offensive end as the program enters a new league at the Division I level.
“You can see already a substantial difference in style. It’s personnel driven. Right now it makes sense for us to get up the floor and take the first good open look,” Andy said. “The Delta River League is the toughest and we’ll have our work cut out particularly being inexperienced. We have good coaches and assistant coaches at the lower levels and we’re real high on the JV kids coming up. In future years we’ll have to adapt, be as competitive as we can be and win our share. Going forward I’m bullish.”
One of Andy’s earliest memories is being a water boy and wearing an over-sized jersey while helping his dad who coached football at Granada Hills. Andy played basketball at Canoga Park and still plays on a weekly basis when he can find the time. He graduated from CSU Northridge where he met Fernando Gaudy, his current brother-in-law and assistant coach. Also on staff is Ponderosa alumnus James Doran.
Andy and wife Kim live in Cameron Park. Andy is the founder of MaxPreps Inc. and the current president of CBS MaxPreps Inc.