A Tribute To Ned Beattie

ned beattie tulsa rowing club tribute 4

This week, I learned that the world, Tulsa, and the Tulsa Rowing Club had lost a remarkable man.

I first crossed paths with Ned shortly after my arrival in Tulsa. At the age of 27, I had just embarked on a new chapter in my life, moving to this city. One of my initial priorities was to check if Tulsa had a rowing club. Within a month, I found myself invited to lunch by the parent board and offered the position of junior team coach.

Ned was among the first individuals I encountered. Over the next few months, we developed a close bond as he introduced me to the world of the Tulsa Rowing Club and its operations. During my inaugural year as head coach, I began as a volunteer coach and later took on the role of an official team coach.

Ned was always there when you needed him.

As time went by, it became evident that Ned shared our vision for the junior team in Tulsa. He actively supported both me and our team, and together, we achieved significant milestones. We even took our first crews from Tulsa to the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta. As our program expanded, what had once seemed like ambitious aspirations turned into concrete achievements.

Ned was by my side every step of the way, steadfast in his belief in our potential to elevate youth rowing in Tulsa.

Ned was always there when you needed him.

Ned was a straight-shooter, a trustworthy individual who got things done. He stood by the junior team’s side when others hesitated, offering valuable advice and guidance to help me transition from coaching at a boarding school to a community setting.

When the juniors faced challenges with fundraising and equipment, especially when our boats being loaned to us by TU were relocated to Catoosa, Ned was there to lend his voice. His support played a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our program.

Ned was always there when you needed him.

Disciplinary issues were a part of coaching, and as a young coach, I often grappled with finding the right consequences for athletes who had violated club policies. Parents were quick to offer their opinions, sometimes applying pressure whether solicited or not.

I recall a phone conversation with Ned during this period. He shared that some parents believed I was too strict, while others thought I was too lenient. Ned wisely remarked that if opinions were divided in this way, it likely meant I was striking the right balance. Ned supported me in my journey to become a better coach and navigate the intricacies of club politics and interpersonal relationships.

Ned was always there when you needed him.

ned beattie tulsa rowing club tribute

I remember a year-end banquet one year. Ned stood before the entire program, holding a framed certificate with a citation. His gesture was not only a show of support for James and me, the current coaches, but also a reminder to the critics in the room. Coaching a junior rowing team is demanding work, and it’s easy to pass judgment. Ned’s tone carried a sense of professional assertiveness, acknowledging the challenges we faced as young coaches striving to improve.

Ned was always there when you needed him.

While there were countless other ways in which Ned supported the Tulsa Rowing Club and the Tulsa Rowing Club Juniors (now Tulsa Youth Rowing Association), these experiences I’ve shared are etched in my memory as instances when Ned stood up for what was right, sound, and in the best interest of the Tulsa rowing community. Most importantly, I am grateful for having had a mentor who recognized my coaching potential and helped us realize the vision we had for junior rowing in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.

These are just a few of my cherished memories with Ned. Undoubtedly, others who knew him have their own stories to tell. But one thing is certain – Ned was a man with a purpose, a kind and honest individual who left the world and Tulsa rowing in a better place than he found them.

Godspeed, Ned.

We will miss you dearly, but your legacy lives on in our hearts and minds, as well as within the boathouse, where your presence will forever be felt in times of need.

Photo credit: Special thanks to Mike Kneafsey for the photographs in this tribute.


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