This is Sideline Stories. A platform where NE10 student-athletes can share their collegiate experiences in an unfiltered environment - using their voices to promote growth and positive change in our league and overall in NCAA Division II athletics.
Austin Beech, a senior on the Adelphi men's basketball team, has embraced periods of confusion in his life and found direction and purpose through hard work. As another life transition awaits him, he shares his thoughts in this edition of Sideline Stories:
Beech with Adelphi's Director of Athletics Danny McCabe receiving the Cecil K. Watkins Memorial Award.
Growing up my entire life exclusively in California, never in my mind did I imagine ending up in New York for school. Basketball turned into my ticket to a higher education. Earning a scholarship to relieve some of the burden of tuition for my parents was not only a nicety, but a necessity. My older sister joined the Navy straight out of high school, and it was my job to earn a scholarship so that I would be able to continue my education. They always told me that no matter what happens, we would figure it out.
I knew that our situation would have been heavily impacted if a scholarship was not awarded. This task became daunting, the recruiting process wasn’t clear cut for me, and at the time of finishing my senior season I still had no idea in what direction my life was heading.
At that point, even with no pressure from my parents, I felt as if I was letting them down. I didn’t have one program sold on me, to give me the opportunity to show them how much I can contribute to not only their program, but the college or university. That was until I got in contact with Adelphi University and eventually took my first-ever flight to New York.
Beech taking part in Adelphi's Midnight Madness.
I was confident in my ability to be a useful part of any program, but having confidence in yourself doesn’t make a school offer a scholarship. The program and coaching staff at Adelphi put their trust in me, believed in me to make an impact and I committed to playing for those reasons. This university was my only guaranteed four-year opportunity to play and continue my education.
After having the weight lifted off my shoulders of where I was going to end up after graduating high school, the next task I set for myself was to take this opportunity and run with it. I wanted to gain as much knowledge and grow as much as I could because for a moment in time, I didn’t even think I would end up anywhere. The game now became to better myself and not look back.
The uncertainty of a college decision in such a pivotal moment in my life made me realize that I needed to squeeze everything I could out of the opportunities I was given before they pass me by.
Beech being presented with the Adelphi Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award.
Now came the time to move my entire life across the country and try to make a place for myself somewhere that felt so foreign to me, especially at a small school that is made up of predominantly commuters like Adelphi is. It wasn’t an easy transition and at times I felt isolated in my own world, but the thing that kept pushing me in the back of my head was the fact that I can’t squander the opportunity that was presented to me. I made a name for myself in the first year on the court, being honored with All-Rookie Team accolades, as well as in the classroom with honor roll status.
The journey over the four years seems almost too similar to that of my four years in high school. I am nearing the end of my time at Adelphi and I am left trying to figure out where I am going to end up. My parents are separated and live in two different states, with neither in the hometown where I graduated high school. I have spent the last four years on the opposite coast from where I grew up, and again I feel as if the decision has started to weigh down on my shoulders.
My heart is having a hard time deciding where to go. Both my parents, who I love dearly, are in different places. Basketball has been a part of my life that I am not sure I am ready to let go of yet. I have done so much here at Adelphi and not knowing what is going to happen six months down the road is starting to loom over me, day-to-day.
Beech has been a model student-athlete since arriving to Adelphi.
Again, with all the uncertainty, this is where my experience here at Adelphi and the opportunity the NE10 gave me to continue growing as a person after high school has helped me. I’ve proven to myself and to those around me that the opportunity is everything that I needed. I’ve lived in the moment and taken what I could from this place to better myself. It was a constant battle with highs and lows, filled with experiences that I will never forget that helped me grow as a person.
Thoughts of quitting to go back home because the familiarity sounded so comforting.
Being named to the All-Rookie Team.
Not feeling like I belonged in this place because I wasn’t from here.
Honored by Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars, which honors minority student-athletes who excel in their given sport and in the classroom.
Being depressed and isolating myself because I felt like I was losing control over what was my life and what I had to do to please other people.
Recognized to the honor roll in each of my semesters at Adelphi and named Male Scholar Athlete of the Year my junior year.
No one ever said it was going to be easy. No one ever said that with the good, there won’t be any bad. The hard part is remembering why you are in the position you are in and what you are fighting for. Nearing the end of my college career, on my way to graduating with a degree that my parents were not given the same opportunity to finish, knowing that I am a key player in my program and in my school reminds me that the right opportunity is out there for me.
And as soon as I get it, there is no looking back.