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In the family: father

Ernie Beck guided Royal Knights to district title and beyond

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- This year's three-day golf outing with 15 coaches from River Ridge and Mitchell snuck up on River Ridge coach Ernie Beck.

Nonetheless, you won't hear him complaining.

With the Royal Knights' quick ouster in last year's playoff, Beck had ample time to prepare for the golf outing.

This season, however, Beck kept busy right until the end of the school year thanks to his team's run to the Class 4A state final.

"When you play that long, all of a sudden, the school year's done," Beck said. "You don't have time to unwind."

Of all the highlights of River Ridge's magical season, including 31 wins, the Knights' first district title holds a special meaning for Beck.

"That was probably the biggest first," Beck said of his team's 11-0 win over Land O'Lakes in the Class 4A, District 8 championship game.

"You get tired of getting conference championships and you can't get out of your district."

River Ridge has won three Sunshine Athletic Conference titles and has been a district runner-up four times.

With only one senior (outfielder Jen Brumbaugh) lost to graduation, Beck felt his team had the talent to challenge for a district title.

During the season, he discovered the players had the hearts to achieve that goal.

"What stood out is the dedication and the work this team put in all year," Beck said.

"These kids just had this tenacity ... going to the state final. I'm just so proud of them."

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