May 13, 2019
The JUCO route is underrated, but definitely not the route all athletes are built to take. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing. However, most athletes find that the reward at the end is worth the struggle. Bryce Beekman’s football journey displays this perfectly. Coming out of Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana there were only two schools that expressed interest in Bryce, however, his grades and ACT score were not sufficient enough for him to be admitted to either school. This is what eventually led Bryce to Southern University, an HBCU located right down the street from his high school. Bryce spent a semester at Southern before he ended up at Arizona Western Junior College in Yuma, Arizona. It was Bryce’s patience and perseverance through this process that allowed him to develop his athletic abilities into becoming a D1 safety. But, more importantly, it was at Arizona Western that Bryce found his identity and developed as a man.
Bryce came out of Arizona Western a stronger athlete, both physically and mentally. His freshman year at Arizona Western Bryce received NJCAA All-American Honorable Mention and All-Western States Football League First Team with 26 tackles and 7 interceptions as the Matadors finished with a near perfect season, only to fall to EMCC in the national championship by 3 points. After his freshman year Bryce already began receiving D1 offers, including an offer from Western Illinois. By his sophomore year Bryce accepted more of a leadership role on the team and received All-Region First Team and All-WFSL First Team, with 41 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. Unfortunately, the Matadors did not perform as well as expected throughout the season. By the end of his sophomore season at Arizona Western, Bryce was considered a 3 Star prospect by ESPN.com, 247Sports.com, and Rivals.com. He went from receiving zero D1 offers out of high school, to receiving twelve official scholarship offers from D1 schools. He had originally committed to Utah State, but reopened the recruiting process when he once again did not qualify because of his grades.
While Bryce’s college route has been a roller coaster ride, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He explains that the JUCO experience is whatever you make it, and that it was one of the best things to ever happen to him. It was Bryce’s focuses on and off the field that helped him get out of Arizona Western the man he is now. Arizona Western woke him up and made him realize that there is more to life than just football. One of his highlights was being introduced to Mrs. and Mr. Rooks who took Bryce in as their own son. They would host Bible studies together twice a week, and attend church together on Sundays. It was during his time at Arizona Western that he was baptized, one of his biggest life changing events. Bryce’s testimony reveals that leaning into those who care about you most will help you get through the toughest times. Bryce had a lot of support around him, not just from the Rooks, but also from one of his coaches, Jerry Dominguez. Mr. Dominguez was involved in Bryce’s life in more ways than just being a coach. He was Bryce’s defensive coordinator, academic advisor, and a father figure at Arizona Western for Bryce. He believed in Bryce, and offered a lot of tough love. He did not always tell Bryce what he wanted to hear, but needed to hear on the field, in the weight room, and even in the classroom. If it wasn’t for these significant adults in Bryce’s life, he might not have come out of Arizona Western the man he is now.
Bryce now has two years of eligibility at Washington State University, and has big dreams for himself personally, but also for the Cougars. However, after talking with Bryce I realized he is more than a football player. He is a believer. He is a student, and it should be mentioned that he finished this semester at WSU with a GPA of 3.4, the best GPA he has ever earned. He is a good friend. He is a leader. He is a family man, and very unselfish. At the end of my interview with Bryce he was excited to share about the success of his brother Reece Beekman, one of the best high school basketball players in Louisiana. Reece has won the Louisiana State Championship three times and was the MVP of the championship game twice. This past season Reece averaged nearly 22 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds per game. Reece currently has 21 D1 offers, and that number looks to only increase by the time he is finished with high school. God blessed the Beekman brothers with extraordinary athlete ability, and I am excited to see the impact Bryce leaves at WSU, and also to see the impact his younger brother will make in the basketball world. Whether Bryce finds his success in football by one day entering the league, or by being a family or marriage therapist, I have no doubt that the strong-willed athlete created at Arizona Western will be a world changer.