By Olivia J. Cappoli
Special to GoHolyCross.com
For Holy Cross starting center Phil Beans, basketball has always been a family affair.
His mother, Cindy, who played Division I basketball at both Indiana University and the University of Toledo, was one of his first coaches when he began playing competitively in the third grade. He built a strong rivalry with his older sister, Stephanie, who Beans says, "always gave me a tough time on the backyard court," and a friendly rivalry with his younger brother, Geoff, also a basketball player.
Watching basketball on television – especially the NCAA Tournament – was also a favorite family pastime. So, it came as no surprise that Beans wanted to be a part of it all from the time he was in middle school. Then, as a high school senior, when he had a choice between playing college baseball or basketball, of course he opted for the latter.
After being recruited by many other schools in various conferences, including the Mid-American Conference, the Patriot League, the Ivy League and the Big South Conference, Beans favored Holy Cross because of the "great basketball tradition" and the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. As academics go, he knew that Holy Cross was "second to none compared to other schools." Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, he also liked the idea of venturing to the East Coast.
So he chose Holy Cross, and has never looked back.
Playing in 28 games off the bench during his freshman season, Beans worked hard to improve his skills in hopes of landing a starting position the following season. During his sophomore year, he started in five games before being sidelined for the remainder of the season due to an injury. Sitting out was extremely difficult for him. "I felt like I was letting down my team, not being able to be out on the floor with them," he said.
Ironically, his stint on the sidelines made him a stronger player. During that time, he gained helpful advice from George Mumford, who works with the Crusader basketball team.
"He really helped me progress as a player even though I wasn't on the court," said Beans, who also recognizes the tremendous support he has received from his coach of three years, Milan Brown. "The biggest lesson he has taught me is that in order to get to the level you want to, whether in basketball or anything in life, you have to put in the work," said Beans.
And the hard work has paid off for Beans, who has made his way on to the Patriot League leaderboard for scoring, rebounding and three-point field goal percentage in his senior season.
Living miles and miles away, it is no easy task for the Beans familty to attend basketball games, but they always manage to pull through. With this being Phil's last collegiate year, his family has made even more of an effort to be in the stands whenever possible.
"I think that knowing this is the last year they will be able to watch me play has motivated them to make the long 10-hour drive to Worcester just a few more times," he said.
They will no doubt be there when Beans, who became tri-captain during his senior season at Holy Cross, makes his way onto the court for the last game of his career in March. After all, for the Beans from Ohio, basketball is a family affair.
This story appears in the 2013 Patriot League Tournament program, which will be available for purchase at host sites for both the men and women's basketball tournaments.