Beach shares love of sport with new generation

Published 9:32 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beach web

For Erica Babb Beach, who graced the basketball court for Happy Valley from 1992 to 1996, her love for the game still holds strong.

And, like a basketball, she is passing that love on to younger generations.

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On June 27, during the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Beach, who played at ETSU from 1996 to 2000, will become a member of the Hall of Fame along with 16 other notable athletes from Carter County.

Also a part of the 2015 Hall of Fame class is Beach’s former Lady Warriors’ coach, Mike Rader, who took Happy Valley to four state tournaments during his career.

“I hope he is as honored as I am,” Beach said. “I think it is neat that we are going in at the same time. I hope he feels as proud as I do.”

During Beach’s time at Happy Valley, she competed under the goal as a center and a post player, leading the Lady Warriors in rebounds as she pulled down an average of 12.5 rebounds per game during her sophomore and junior years. She also led her team in scoring, posting an average of 18.5 points per game.

During her junior year at Happy Valley, Beach joined the 1000 point club, much like today’s Lady Warriors’ star, Kalee Johnson, who reached the 1000-point mark this season as a junior. Beach said reaching the 1000th point early in one’s high school career can add pressure.

“It is definitely an honor,” she said. “It is nice to achieve that, but at times it can be stressful for a young lady knowing that a lot of your team’s offense rides on how you are playing.”

Due to a torn ACL, Beach’s high school career was cut short, and she did not play at all during her senior season. However, that did not mean her basketball career came to an end. The former Lady Warrior signed on with the ETSU Lady Buccaneers in 1996 as an early signee.

During her freshman year, she got to work early, scoring in the double digits during three games and recording 99 points and 64 rebounds her first season.

As a sophomore, Beach got her first double-double in her college career and finished out the season with 129 points and 93 rebounds.

Her junior year, Beach was selected as a Southern Conference Academic All-America. During the same season, she was ranked fourth in the SoCon in blocked shots. She finished out the season leading the Lady Bucs in rebounds, recording 141 boards. She also totaled 227 points.

In her final season at ETSU, Beach was ranked fifth in the SoCon in scoring as she posted an 14.7 points per game. She was also ranked second in rebounding, recording an average of 8.3 boards per game. She had seven double-doubles her last season and was named to the All-Southern Conference Team.

Today, Erica lives in Johnson City, where she coaches two traveling basketball teams — a group of sixth and seventh graders and a team of fourth and fifth graders. On those teams are her two daughters, Madison and Kiley Beach.

“It is nice getting to share what I know about the sport with them,” Beach said.

Since her time as a Lady Warrior and a Lady Buccaneer, Beach has noticed changes in women’s basketball, she said.

“I think the game is a lot faster than when I played,” Beach said. “I think, at all positions, the game has gotten a lot quicker. The game is a lot more physical. It seems that women are taking more incentive in the weight room, which is great.”

Beach, who has a masters degree in teaching, hopes to coach and teach at the high school level some day, she said.