Mark Beason is returning to coach in the high school ranks.
Beason, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Nicholls State, was named girls basketball coach at Fontainebleau High on Wednesday.
He replaces Steve Lopinto, who stepped down after seven seasons leading the program.
Beason takes over a program that isn’t rich in girls basketball tradition, but he hopes to change that.
“To be honest, I think you have to try to change the paradigm,” Beason said. “They haven’t won, and it’s not from a lack of trying. My goal is to win. I don’t want to coach and be satisfied with winning just a few games each year. I want to win state championships. I want to put girls in college if that’s their desire. If not, I want them to at least leave a better player.”
At Nicholls, Beason was part of the most successful season in school history in 2012-13 as an assistant under DoBee Plaisance.
Before his stint at Nicholls, he spent over 17 years coaching mostly high school basketball. He also coached baseball, track and served as athletic director.
“His reputation, knowledge of the game and level of experience speaks for itself,” Fontainebleau Athletic Director Barry Dotson said. “Mark is excited to be back in high school and we look forward to him setting and achieving great expectations for the program.”
Beason’s most recent high school coaching experience was at Northshore High, where his teams compiled a 97-39 record in four years. It included three playoff appearances. In his final season before heading off to Nicholls, he led Northshore to a 32-4 record (12-0 in district play) and the school’s first appearance in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Top 28 tournament. He also served as boys coach at Northlake Christian, Chalmette, Buras and Westbank Cathedral.
Now he returns to the high school ranks, where he can be close to his son, who will be a senior at Northlake Christian.
“Coaching in college is kind of a grind when it comes to traveling and all the hours,” Beason said. “It’s something I can maybe do after he graduates, but I wanted to be in the area while he is a senior.”
Fontainebleau finished 15-16 this past season and just missed the Class 5A playoffs. The team was ranked No. 35 in 5A power rankings, with the top 32 teams making it.
He expects senior twins Jaclyn and Jenna Scholvin to play key roles this season on a team returning seven seniors.
“The team has historically battled in the district but hasn’t been able to get over the top and into the playoffs,” Beason said.
“The twins are excellent players. I would love to have them for a few more years. Those two girls can carry the day for us, and we’ll get other kids involved.”
Beason doesn’t expect it to be difficult to transition back to coaching high schools.
“Basketball is basketball,” he said. “I wanted to experience the college game to see if it was something I could do. What I learned is that I can do it. I think if I was to be named the head coach of a small college or even a mid-sized one I think I could do a good job. It’s a different landscape, but basketball is basketball.
“You have to be good in the fundamentals, you have to be able to knock down shots and you have to be able to defend your basket.”
And it’s that basic philosophy that Beason said will be key on his new job.
“You just have to evaluate and see what you have,” Beason said. “Not every kid can score 30 points and not every kid is 7 feet tall. But the one philosophy I learned is any kid can hustle and any kid can defend. We were going to work.”
The school’s last playoff trip was in the 2012-13 season, but the program’s most successful season in recent memory was in the late 90’s.
Dotson is hoping his latest hire can get the team back to that point.
“Mark’s a good guy and he definitely knows the game,” Dotsoon said.
“Hopefully he can work with the girls we have and develop a good squad. I know he will work them hard and I have confidence he will get the most out of them.”