The coaching carousel at Northwest College continued to spin last week, with the resignation of long-time women’s basketball coach Janis Beal. Beal stepped down to become the new women’s basketball coach at the College of Idaho, a four-year school in Caldwell, Idaho. Her last day at NWC will be Monday, May 7.
“The College of Idaho, it’s in a gorgeous area, and I have friends that are out that way,” Beal said. “So when the opportunity to coach for a four-year school in that area came up, it was something I felt I should at least look at.”
The hiring process was a bit of a whirlwind, with a vist to the C of I campus coming right on the heels of her initial phone interview.
“I was there for a day-and-a-half for the on-campus interview, and they offered me the job shortly after that,” Beal explained. “So then I had to really sit down and contemplate if it was something that was right for me, to make a move at this point in my career.”
Beal, a Lovell native and the all-time leading scorer in Lady Trappers’ history, took over the helm of the women’s program in 2009. Under her leadership, the Lady Trappers advanced to the semi-finals of the Region IX Tournament three times (2013, 2015 and 2017), received the Region IX Sportsmanship Award (2013) and had numerous players named to the All-Region IX and the Region IX All-Defensive Teams. Beal’s players also excelled in the classroom: In 2016, the Trappers were named the top team in the nation by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for team GPA among two-year colleges, posting a 3.575 GPA. Beal’s teams routinely consisted of multiple student-athletes being named Region IX Academic All-Region, as well as receiving different NJCAA Academic All-American awards.
Beal’s record of fielding strong teams in the classroom was likely a selling point when it came time for C of I to make an offer.
“I think a big reason why I was interesting to them was the success of our team academically,” Beal said. “Academics are such a high standard there, you have to bring in good academic kids. So I think that was definitely a draw. I definitely owe my kids for that, for being such great students and athletes. They are a reason for this opportunity.”
The decision to leave NWC was far from easy, and Beal said being a native of the area and an alumnus of NWC only added to that difficulty.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach so many good kids here, and work with so many good people” Beal said. “Here has always been home — I went to school here, my family’s still in Lovell. It’s a bittersweet decision, for sure.”
Breaking the news to her team was also a struggle, though Beal said she was touched by the support and encouragement she received.
“That was a hard conversation,” she said. “I think we’ve built such great relationships that it’s sad to leave them. There’s never a good time to leave. If it was an easy thing to tell my team, then I’m not doing something right. The fact that it was as hard as it was is just a testament to what we’ve built here and the relationships that we have with those kids.”
The College of Idaho position will be Beal’s first as a head coach at a four-year school, and she’s excited at the flexibility the additional years will allow for player development.
“It’s exciting to be able to think you can have kids for four years,” she said. “I see so much development with our kids in just two years — imagine what you can do with four. [College of Idaho] has a great support staff; there are only about 1,000 students on campus, but about 45 percent of them are athletes, spread around 20 different sports. Sports are such an important thing at that school, and the support system in place is just really exciting, to think you can be a part of something like that.”
Asked what she’ll miss the most about NWC, Beal said it comes down to the people: The players she’s had the opportunity to mentor, the coaches she’s worked with and the college staff she’s closely worked with, day in and day out, over nine seasons.
“I’ll miss the culture that we’ve created, the program itself,” she said. “Those kids that have put their trust in me have really been a huge part of building that culture. And now I’ll be starting over with that when I go there [C of I].”
And the most gratifying aspect?
“Just the relationship I’ve had with all of these kids,” she said. “They come back and they’re excited to come back and visit. Powell becomes their home away from home. So being able to still be in touch with those kids and have that ‘Once a Trapper, Always a Trapper’ pride is just really something special.”
There have been several head coaching changes at Northwest College over roughly the past year, in the volleyball program and the men’s and women’s soccer teams.