Beall is back: South Oldham names Denis Beall boys soccer coach for a second run

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By Elliott Pratt

 Becoming the head coach of the boys soccer program at South Oldham was an opportunity Denis Beall knew he couldn’t pass up.

After all, he’s already experienced it with the Dragons once before.

South Oldham made it official by hiring Beall again after previously coaching the Dragons from 2003-09. South athletic director Mitchell Irvin told the Era that Beall was officially named coach last Friday. 

Beall replaces Kenny Burke, who moved over to coach the girls team after serving five years as the boys coach.

Beall originally left South to pursue a guidance counselor role at Collins High School when the school opened up in 2010. Beall, who has continued to live in the area during the time, came back to South two years ago as a guidance counselor and now serves as an assistant principal.

“I’m excited,” Beall said. “When I left the first time to be a  counselor at Collins, one of the things I hated leaving was the boys soccer program. I really enjoyed working with the guys and being a part of it so I’m excited to be back.”

Beall takes over a team that under Burke’s direction went to the district championship three times and reached the state semifinals for the first time in program history just last season.

That success is probably because Beall rebuilt the program before leaving in 2009.

He started out as the junior varsity coach in 2002 and took over as the varsity coach the next season. It also happened to be the same year North Oldham High School opened, which meant the majority of his roster was heading up to Goshen.

“When I started out, we had one kid who had ever played in a varsity game,” Beall said. “We basically started from scratch. A good thing was I had a bunch of JV guys the year before. Those first few years we were a step behind North and OC because they had more experience and some veteran players.”

South became competitive once again as Beall built his program. In his last season, South won the region and defeated Trinity in the Sweet 16 of the state tournament before falling to St. Xavier in the Elite 8. Under his direction, South Oldham produced the school’s first ever Mr. Soccer with Will Vitalis in 2009, who went on to play at the University of Louisville.

“He’s one of the most successful coaches we had before he left to go into pursuing counseling and administration,” athletics director Mitchell Irvin said. “It’s a good fit for us because he knows the program and he’s been around these kids for two years. He hasn’t coached them, but he comes to a lot of the soccer games, boys and girls. He missed it a lot.”

In over 25 years as the AD at South, this is the first coach Irvin has hired who is already an administrator at the school.

He’s not the only administrator in the county who also serves a head coaching role. North Oldham boys soccer coach Andrew Terry is an assistant principal and North AD Alan Yanke serves as the girls track and field coach at the school.

“When I first started thinking about it, I called Andrew Terry over at North and said, ‘Okay, I’ve done this before, but what is it like being an administrator doing it,’” Beall said. “I think it’s having to be real intentional about timing and scheduling and planning and so forth. You have to make sure that you give the boys everything they need and put us in the best spot possible to be successful.”

Beall said he plans to bring on John Cantrell as an assistant and the JV coach. Cantrell played for Beall and was a senior on his last team that went to the Elite 8 and just graduated from Bellarmine. He said he is working on filling one more assistant coaching role.

Beall believes having been back at South the past two years and already established a connection with some of the players will make this transition - for a second time - into the role really smooth.

“I haven’t been to every game or every practice, but I’ve been around them and watched them play,” Beall said. “We graduate quite a bit, but I think already having a relationship with some of those kids is going to help quite a bit when we get going.”