ROCHESTER — While they certainly do not make plays on the field or decide crucial calls from the sideline, athletic directors have a very important role in the success of high school programs.
Some parents and fans may know the name of their respective AD, but their behind-the-scenes work usually goes unnoticed, even though it involves decisions that affect every student-athlete and coach in an institution.
Luke Beach’s unheralded efforts were recently recognized, as he was named the Varsity Brands National Outstanding Athletic Director May 13. Beach joined Rochester High as interim athletic director in the winter of 2013, coming over from an assistant role at Oxford High.
“This award is a reflection of many people who have poured their hearts into giving our student-athletes the best experience possible,” Beach said. “You never get anywhere alone, and my coaching staff is just as deserving as I am of this recognition.”
During his tenure with Rochester, Beach has overseen 11 district championships, 11 regional banners, two state runner-ups and three Division 1 state crowns with competitive cheer (2016-17) and girls golf (2016).
In that same span, 60 graduates have gone on to continue their athletic careers in college. Beach remarked that he takes great pride in how his student-athletes fare in the classroom, with 17 out of a possible 26 teams earning Academic All-State standing in 2016-17.
“It is gratifying knowing that your students and colleagues feel you’re making a positive impact in the lives of our student-athletes,” Beach said. “I have a real passion for fostering relationships with our student-athletes, coaches, faculty and community at Rochester, and knowing that they value that means the world to me. I work with great educators, and knowing I have their respect really makes me proud.”
Rochester baseball coach Eric Magiera praised Beach for his leadership and the way he has built up each team under the Falcons umbrella.
“He’s a great AD to work for; he’s very, very supportive of all the coaches,” Magiera said. “He wants every program to do well. He cares not only about the high-profile sports, but also the sports you don’t see as much, helping us all to do well.”
The baseball team earned back-to-back regional titles the past two seasons. Magiera said his club has benefited from an environment of continued success created by Beach.
“He has a great vision for Rochester athletics, and that is really important to have a vision looking to help each individual player and coach,” Magiera said. “He isn’t just trying to keep it where no news is good news. He wants Rochester to move forward, having that vision of where he wants it to be, and he works hard to achieve it.”
Beach has improved aspects in the boosters club and brokered a deal with Under Armour to improve on-field equipment. Additionally, Beach cited two specific off-the-field programs that he is most proud of.
“I’m incredibly proud of all of the accomplishments on the playing field, but I’m even more proud of our character programs that we’ve established at Rochester,” Beach said. “We created the Captains Club, which is a leadership and character development program for all of our varsity captains that has a large focus on service to our community. We also created our Women in Leadership program that gives all of our female student-athletes the opportunity to meet prominent professional women from our community who speak to them about life after sports.”
The Varsity Brands award was given out after a nationwide contest. First, Beach was named the award winner in Michigan, then the recipient in the Midwest region. Finally, he was placed in a final-four grouping, with Beach being announced as the overall winner at a ceremony at Walt Disney World in Florida.