Beamer sports are officially 'on the map'

The Todd Beamer High School athletic programs are rolling.

All you have to do is look at the standings in the South Puget Sound League South Division during the fall sports season. Titan teams have already snagged championships in girls swimming and boys tennis, and the girls soccer team clinched the division title Tuesday night with a 1-0 win over Rogers.

“We’ve had a great run this fall,” said Beamer athletic director Jerry Peterson. “I’m proud of what we’ve done to get ourselves on the map.”

The championships this fall means three more banners will be hung up inside the Beamer gymnasium, joining the seven Todd Beamer has earned since opening its doors in 2003. But of those 10 SPSL division titles, seven have come in the past year while Beamer has been a member of the eight-team SPSL South. Last school year, the Titans won titles in girls soccer, boys tennis, girls track and boys soccer.

In comparison, the three other Federal Way district high schools — Decatur, Federal Way and Thomas Jefferson — have combined to win five SPSL division titles during the same time period. Jefferson has won four North Division titles and Federal Way has garnered one.

And the turnaround at Beamer shouldn’t slow down entering the winter and spring seasons.

“I’m just very proud of our kids,” Peterson said. “This is our fifth time around and we’ve done a great job.”

There has also been a change of opinion in how the people over at Beamer feel about being “stuck” in the SPSL South Division, away from district mates Federal Way, Decatur and Thomas Jefferson.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) passed a sweeping reclassification amendment three years ago, Beamer remained in the South Division, while the other three Federal Way high schools were moved to the league’s North Division with the four Kent schools (Kentridge, Kentwood, Kentlake and Kent-Meridian), along with Tahoma.

At the time, parents and administrators were very upset about splitting up the district’s athletic programs. A large group of parents even joined together in an attempt to move Beamer into the North Division. The group said Beamer athletes would lose out on many high school experiences, including inner-city rivalries, and the kids would feel alienated from the other Federal Way schools and receive less community support.

That is no longer the case, according to Peterson.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “We like it. I think it’s been good for Beamer. It’s allowed us to form our own identity. But we do miss playing the Federal Way schools.”

There’s no doubt that some of the Beamer sports programs have been helped by playing in the SPSL South Division. The Titans are competing against the three schools from the Bethel school district (Spanaway Lake, Bethel and Graham-Kapowsin), the three schools from Puyallup (Rogers, Puyallup and Emerald Ridge) and Curtis High School.

Aside from Curtis, the other six South Division schools have traditionally struggled in fall sports like tennis, swimming, soccer, cross country and golf, while excelling in the “major” boys and girls sports of football and volleyball.

“The North Division is a lot stronger, there’s no doubt about that,” said Beamer tennis head coach Brent Brilhante. “I have talked to some of the coaches and they said that we would definitely be competitive in the North. I know Kentridge is pretty dominant, but they said that we would be in contention for second place.”

Other factors in the success of the athletic programs at Beamer recently include the stability and talent of the coaching staff at the school, the maturation of the student population and the school’s location.

A bulk of the coaches on the varsity level have been entrenched at Beamer for all five years of the school’s existence. The stability has allowed those coaches to establish the tone of their programs, as well as giving student-athletes the knowledge of what is expected of them during the season.

“We are very fortunate in that aspect,” Peterson said. “We have some great coaches and are very lucky.”

Until a couple of years ago, Beamer programs couldn’t rely on a senior class to provide leadership and maturity. When the school was opened in 2003, there were no seniors in the student population and a large portion of the freshmen and sophomore athletes that would have attended Beamer, chose to stay at the other high schools they had already started at. Last year marked the first-ever class that spent their entire high school careers at Beamer.

Another huge factor in the recent success of Beamer athletics is where most of their kids are coming from. Beamer draws a bulk of its students from Illahee and Sequoyah middle schools. Year in and year out, Illahee has the most successful athletic programs in the city and Sequoyah is the newest school in the district, which is a big draw.

“We are proud of both schools,” Peterson said. “Illahee has done a great job for years.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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