Quiet Support

As head coach John Beilein fielded questions from the assembled media following WVU's thrilling 111-105 double-overtime win over Wake Forest, a trim, quiet figure entered the back of the darkened room to take in the scene. While Beilein squinted into the bright lights that flooded the podium, Kathleen, his wife of 26 years, watched quietly from behind the scenes.

Although the lights trained on the speakers at the front of the room are bight enough to reduce most of the assembled questioners nothing more than shadows, Beilein somehow made the connection and picked his wife out of the crowd. He paused and waved, and in return Kathleen blew her husband a kiss that was undoubtedly even sweeter than the sixteen that West Virginia just joined.

"I don't know how he picked me out," Kathleen Beilein said while her husband continued to answer questions. "I guess we must have just made some sort of connection."

That tie is certainly a strong one, as Mrs. Beilein has watched her husband coach more than 800 games. And through most of them, she has maintained an outward calm that belies the inner stress she feels as she watches her husband guide groups of young men through game after grueling game.

"It is hard, but I always try to keep my emotions under control," she said. "I support John and the team, but I try not to show everything that I'm feeling. It's so difficult to do that, but I've always been there to support him."

Although she doesn't typically come into the interview room or draw any attention to herself before, during, or after games, she couldn't resist slipping into the large interview area in Cleveland following West Virginia's two huge NCAA wins. It was her way of sharing the moment with her husband, who has seen the demands on his time dramatically increase as the Mountaineers have advanced through the bracket.

While many other coaches' wives are often the staples of television tournament coverage with their antics, Kathleen Beilein doesn't figure to be a target for the cameras, mostly because of her reserved nature. That doesn't mean, of course, that she isn't involved in the game or in cheering on the Mountaineers.

"I feel the stress, but I know there's not a lot I can do about it," she said of games such as Saturday's pressure cooker," Mrs. Beilein said. "I am so proud of John and the team."

For his part, Beilein acknowledges all of the support his wife has given him. Even though he tries to limit the amount of attention paid to his family (a situation made tougher by the presence of son Patrick on the Mountaineer roster), he took the time to credit Kathleen's role in his success. Speaking to a crowd that welcomed the team back home on Sunday afternoon, Beilein paid tribute to everything his wife has given him through his long coaching career. As he spoke the words, and as the crowd cheered, Kathleen, as is her way, was in the background. It was, in its own way, the most fitting tribute of all.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories