Laney College athletic director John Beam has become the head coach of the Eagles football team, after serving as Jay Uchiumi’s offensive coordinator the past seven years.
A local legend, the retiring Uchiumi stepped down in January but will remain as defensive coordinator for one final season. The Eagles are coming off a rare poor season, in which they finished 2-8 overall and 0-5 in the powerful NorCal Conference.
“It’s bittersweet, right?” said Beam of his new title. “It’s been such a pleasure working with Jay, we’ve had a great partnership. Not having Jay around anymore will be a little tough because he’s great mentor. He’ll stay on for one more year as a D-coordinator, and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Beam previously coached for 22 years at Skyline High-Oakland and two years as the offensive line coach at Serra High-San Diego. He expects the Eagles football team to rebound strongly next season.
While proud to be the head football coach, Beam said he is “more proud” to be the school’s athletic director. Beam is delighted with the program’s progress. The Laney women’s track team, led by the brilliant sprinter Ashton Purvis, won the Northern Regional title last week in San Mateo and stands a good chance to win the state championship. The baseball team made the Northern regional playoffs for the first time since 1997, and the powerful women’s basketball team won the Bay Valley Conference title.
“I’m excited about all the things here,” Beam said. “I’m excited because we’re a viable option for all the kids in Oakland and in Berkeley and in every area that we service. We don’t go out of state (to recruit). We stay local. We’re a place that the local kids can come to and perform.”
Beam chuckled when he said his administrative workload tripled with his new position. He is pleased that four football players from the 2011 team were accepted to Cal academically.
“We’re trying to maintain our 90 percent transfer rate, and so a lot of work has to occur,” Beam said. “You’re missing a guy (Uchiumi) who’s been doing that for over 30 years, so there’s some big shoes to fill right now.”