MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Legendary Middlebury College coach Bill Beaney, the NCAA career leader in Division III men’s hockey coaching wins, announced today that he is stepping down as head coach of the men’s hockey program after one of the most successful careers in collegiate history.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon on the Middlebury College campus, the coach of eight national championship teams recalled his years of coaching as “a wonderful journey full of challenges and opportunities.
Beaney earned his 600th win on February 7 and finishes his stellar career with a record of 602-260-59 (.696). He spent 28 of his 35 seasons at the helm of Middlebury’s men’s hockey program, where he posted record of 516-184-51 (.721). He led the team to a total of eight NCAA championships, including a record five in a row from 1995‑99, with three additional titles from 2004‑06.
“I have been truly blessed to have had the chance to coach at Middlebury College, a place that believes deeply in the concept of the student-athlete,” Beaney said. “A coach is only one part of a successful program. It requires the commitment of the entire institution, from the president to the director of athletics, from the faculty to the entire coaching staff, and of course to the quality and character of the players.”
— Bill Beaney
Beaney, though best known for his success on the ice, will remain on staff as the head coach of the men’s golf program, which he has led for the last 21 years, while also taking on other duties within the department.
“Bill has had a tremendous and impactful career as a hockey coach,” Director of Athletics Erin Quinn said. “He is one of the most successful hockey coaches in terms of wins and championships, but that only begins to illustrate his success. The true measure of his success is the impact he has had on the young men who have played for him at Middlebury.”
Middlebury President Ronald Liebowitz called Beaney a “Middlebury legend” who will be missed by the campus community and the many alumni who have played for him and cheered on his teams. “For a generation of Middlebury students, Bill’s name has become synonymous with Middlebury men’s hockey,” Liebowitz said. “Today we all honor him for his service to the college, the surrounding community and to amateur hockey, to which he has given so much.”
After taking over the hockey program in 1986, Beaney’s teams qualified for 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments from 1995-2007 (winning eight of those) and won eight NESCAC championships. His 1996 national champion squad set school records for most wins in a season (26), highest winning percentage (.929), and longest unbeaten streak (29 games). He has also led the team to six ECAC Tournament appearances, with a championship in the 1990-91 season. The school record for wins was broken by the 2003-04 team with 27.
Kent Hughes played forward and was a team captain under Beaney. He graduated in 1992.
“Coach Beaney was the best coach I ever played for, and was one of the best college coaches of his generation at any level. Not only is he a great teacher of the game, but also he taught us how to win the right way, with sportsmanship, class and as a team. It takes incredible leadership to steward a team to as many championships as coach Beaney did. Without looking back at the individual scores, I suspect that there were multiple one or two goal games in each championship run, where his presence behind the bench was the difference between a great season and a championship season.”
“It’s always dangerous to measure one’s success numerically,” said Beaney. “I would hope that most coaches look beyond wins and losses. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to have a little bit of impact on some people in the important facets of life. That’s what drives you every day — to see the young people grow and learn how to make good decisions, to solve problems and deal with adversity. I think that’s how perhaps you measure your success.”
NESCAC rival Amherst College men’s hockey coach Jack Arena praised Beaney upon hearing the news of his decision: “Hockey will miss Bill. He made us all better by establishing a level of excellence that we’ve had to strive to match or risk being left behind. Not only did his teams win championships, but they did so playing the right way and always represented Middlebury in a way that made the college and community proud.
“His record speaks for itself, but his legacy will be measured by the number of people he’s influenced. In the hockey world, his innovative style of play and approach to coaching has changed the way the game is taught.”
At Middlebury, Beaney was selected as the New England Coach of the Year in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 2006. He also earned the Edward Jeremiah Award as the National Coach of the Year in 1990, 1995, 2004 and 2006. In 1998-99, he was named the USOC National Hockey Coach of the Year.
His successes with the Panther men’s golf team have been noteworthy as well. He currently has the team in the midst of its most successful stretch in school history. Over the past eight seasons, the Panthers have won the NESCAC Championship on five different occasions (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014), advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of those five seasons.
Aside from coaching, Beaney has been involved in several other areas of Middlebury College life. His J-term class has been a favorite of students with a waiting list of interested attendees each year. The class, which is expected to return in January 2016, brings in a number of well-known guest speakers each year. He also served as the school’s women’s soccer coach from 1987-1993.
Beaney was also heavily involved with USA Hockey. He served as the head coach of the U.S. Women’s Junior National team in 1996 and 1997. From 1985-97, Beaney coached USA Hockey’s Junior Olympic team, while serving as an assistant coach for the 1994 U.S. Junior National team. In the summer of 1993, Beaney served as head coach of the gold medal East Team at the Olympic Festival in San Antonio. In addition to his duties with USA Hockey, Beaney was a member of the NCAA Hockey selection committee for six years.
“I will still be involved with hockey through the USA program as well as spending more time creating programs and mentoring for youth and high school players and coaches through outreach initiatives locally,” Beaney said.
Beaney attended the University of New Hampshire, where he played four years of varsity hockey and captained the 1973 team. He began his coaching career in 1974 at Bellows Free Academy (Vermont), leading his teams to three consecutive championships. He then moved to the college ranks, taking over the reins at New England College in 1979. He promptly led his teams to four-consecutive ECAC Tournaments and one NCAA berth. He was named the New England Coach of the Year in 1981-82 and 1983-84 at New England College.
He was also recently named to the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s board of directors in his hometown of Lake Placid, New York.
“While he will be missed as a hockey coach, he has established a strong legacy here for his successor, and we will benefit from his continuing role as the men’s golf coach and with various initiatives within athletics,” added Quinn.
“I am enthusiastically embracing the new challenges and opportunities and am looking forward to being able to continue to educate students here at Middlebury,” added Beaney.
Quinn said that the college would begin a search for a new coach soon.