By Tony A. Archuleta
Derek Bean, a 2005 graduate of Hot Springs High School, is back in the head coaching game after an 18-month hiatus, and he’s landed what has to be a dream job for any former Tiger basketball player.
HSHS AD Todd Lindsay last week announced Bean, who coached at Hatch Valley for three and a half seasons, has been hired as the varsity boys basketball head coach at HSHS.
“Obviously it’s good to be back on the sidelines,” Bean told The Herald during a telephone interview Thursday, April 20. “Sitting out that year was torture. When you have it in you and want to be a coach you don’t want to get out. It’s like being an athlete, nobody wants to sit on the bench.”
Bean said he’s especially pleased to be coaching his hometown team.
He previously served as an assistant coach under former Tiger HC Trampus Pierson, leading the C-team his first year and coaching the junior varsity team for three years.
In 2013, he landed the head coaching job at Hatch Valley.
“They saw something in me and gave me an opportunity,” he said. “We built up a pretty competitive program that made the state tournament last year… we got them in the right direction and put in the foundation for a new coach.”
Bean said he resigned in the middle of the 2015-16 season, explaining, “Parents saw one thing, I saw another, so we decided to go our separate ways. That’s the simplest way to put that conversation. Parents are the hardest on coaches, that’s for sure.”
In recent memory, Tiger head coaches have had a short shelf life, and Bean is obviously hoping to reverse that trend with a long and winning career at Hot Springs.
Whether he can walk the fine line between playing his best six to eight players and accommodating every vocal parent who feels his or her son warrants more playing time remains to be seen.
“My parents stayed out of my coaches’ way,” Bean said referring to his own playing career at HSHS as a point-guard in a tough district that included Bernalillo. “And what needed to be done with us is what needed to be done with us. Everybody wants to see their son play, but there’s only so much room on the court (and minutes on the clock). It’s darned if you do, darned if you don’t.”
Bean considers the 2014-15 season as his highlight at HVH, as the Bears finished with a 14-14 record, tied for third in District 3-4A, won a tournament in Cuba, and had a player named to the South All-Star Team.
Against HSHS, Bean went 2-6 with HVH during the regular season.
“The last time we played each other, we were coming off beating them,” he recalls. “When we came back (to Tiger Gym) we got a little booing action. A lot of people don’t understand why I moved to Hatch Valley. That’s neither here no there.”
It’s a new slate for Bean and his Tiger team as the off-season program ramps up in anticipation of the upcoming 2017-18 campaign.
“Obviously we have a lot of work to do to,” Bean said, adding the community response to his hiring has been widespread and encouraging. “A lot of people are excited to have me back, it recharges the batteries and makes you want to make the community proud.”
Bean succeeds Tony Bastine as HSHS boys skipper. Bastine led the Tigers for two seasons, compiling an overall record of 14-39 and 5-15 in District 3-4A.
The Tigers went 1-8 last season in league play during an 8-19 season that was a disappointment, given pre-season expectations, the level of talent on the team and the extensive participation in elite tournaments during the summer.
Height is at a premium at small schools like HSHS, but in recent years the Tigers have featured true big men, but the program has continued to struggle on key fronts like winning league games and making state tournament appearances.
Bean said he’ll have enough height and muscle on the roster to stay competitive in those areas, so now it’s a matter of coaching.
“We are going to get up and down the floor and keep a fast-pace offense going,” he said. “We’re also going to have to know when it’s time to pump the brakes and run a good, quality possession.”
Defensively, Bean plans to go with man-to-man mostly. “Like I said to the boys at our introductory meeting, if we can’t stop them we can’t beat them. We’ve got to be willing to face the music and get in someone’s grill and slow them down.”
In addition to any cliques of overbearing or over-influential parents, which is a common observance among a spectrum of coaches and sports at HSHS, is the stately but cavernous Tiger Gym.
After it was built in 2007, the likes of Tiger basketball and volleyball lost a significant amount of home-court advantage when it moved from the former Tiger Gym –about a quarter of the size of the new one– and the noise factor disappeared.
The new Tiger Gym can get loud, and has on a handful of occasions, but it takes a nearly full gym to get the place rocking like the former gym, and as of late, donkey basketball exhibitions and graduations have provided most of the “sellout” crowds.
“That’s something else that I want to build back up – the hometown court advantage,” Bean said.
Tiger basketball fans largely treated Bean with respect when he brought his Bears teams to town, but elements of the heated HSHS-HVH I-25/Rio Grande rivalry endured.
Bean expects that rivalry will continue to thrive now that he’s back with the Tigers and poised to pay a visit back to Bear country wearing the red, white and blue.
“I like to think that coming back from a rival, it’s only going to heat up a little bit more,” he said.
Following graduation from HSHS, Bean attended the University of New Mexico before transferring to New Mexico State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He currently works as a truancy officer at TorC Elementary and TorC Middle schools.
Bean said his main goal in coaching is to give back to the community and to help put a smile on his players’ faces by walking off the court with the maximum amount of wins possible, and ultimately, “I am going to hang around for as long as I can.”
The Tiger basketball program is in need of some coaching stability and more victories, and perhaps a popular hometown figure like Bean is the right guy at the right time. It’s a development that hoops fans and parents alike can rally around for the good of a program in need of a lift.