Last Updated: Tue Mar 15, 2022 - 12:08AM
Family and football are two major pillars in the Beitel household.
Roger Beitel, who is the head football coach at Ligonier Valley, has had the pleasure of coaching his sons, Zach and Nick, at the high school level. Roger saw his son Zach take his football abilities to Washington & Jefferson and now Zach's brother, Nick, will play for the Presidents as well.
“I chose Washington & Jefferson because it is a historically great program,” Beitel said. “They have a lot of deep history and my brother also goes there. Going there and having a chance to play with him is an opportunity that you can’t really pass up that you only get once in a lifetime."
It’s a great school academically as well, Beitel added. "It met all of my needs academically. I thought it was the best fit for me in every aspect of the decision making.”
Having his older brother already on the team has allowed Nick to prepare himself for what’s to come once he arrives on campus. He became a frequent flyer at W&J football games, seeing the team battle in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference each week. His brother was also able to share the ins and outs to being a student-athlete at the school, and what everyday life is like going to class and practice.
“My family and I would go down almost every Saturday and would watch their home games,” he said. “I got to experience their atmosphere there and their gameday. I also got to hear from my brother about everyday life, practice, in the classroom, what it’s like to be a player in college. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and preparation heading into next year.”
Although he's received a lot of advice from his brother, the recruiting process was still a challenge. With coaches unable to scout him after his junior season, Nick knew he had to take matters into his own hands. He quickly realized the importance the summer leading up to his senior season would have on the trajectory of his football career.
“We didn’t really have an opportunity for any coaches to see us at the end of our junior year,” Beitel mentioned. “This summer I really had to expose myself by going to a lot of camps. I really wanted to expose myself to every opportunity I could get.”
Nick is aware of the change that is coming, going from the high school to college level of football. But change is something that Nick has become very accustomed to, especially in recent years. His football team at Ligonier Valley just finished their 2nd season of being a member of District 7 (WPIAL). Previously, the Rams had been a dominating force in District 6, reaching the District 6 Class 2A championship game each season from 2016-2019.
The Rams first season in the WPIAL was engulfed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the team still managed to finish with a 4-3 overall record. This past season, the Rams doubled their win total from 2020 and managed to make the playoffs, but ultimately fell to South Side 33-14 in the 1st round. Nick wasn’t sure how his team would handle the transition, but after the success the program has had he’s quickly realized that the Rams and himself are built for change.
“When we made the switch, we didn’t really know what to expect,” Beitel said. “However, in our first year, we scrimmaged South Allegheny and we got a feel for what it’s like. With only having one senior on the team during the 2020 season, I feel like we were really successful.”
“Going from District 6 to playing tough, 2A powerhouses, it was a tough change, but I feel like everyone was really good about it. Our coaching staff was great, getting on top of things, working out with us all summer. I feel like this past year is where we really made a stride and established ourselves in the WPIAL,” Beitel continued.
Nick gave credit to the coaching staff at Ligonier Valley for helping the team usher in that change, and one of the members on the coaching staff is his father, Roger Beitel. Coach Beitel just completed his 18th season at the helm for the Rams, and he has been a big part of Nick’s career in football. The advice he’s shared with his son can be traced back to Nick’s youth, when he was just a kid running on the sideline with his dad coaching.
“I’ve been around the program since I was allowed to be on the sidelines when I was seven,” said Beitel. “From that point on I was on the sideline until this past year, so I’ve been around the program my entire life.”
“I’ve learned a lot through his (Roger Beitel) coaching and the life lessons he teaches. Along with the other coaches on the staff, they are great I can’t say enough about them.”
The advice from both his father and his brother has allowed Nick to prepare himself for yet again another change in his athletic career. He knows that he will be welcomed with open arms when he arrives on campus next year with his brother at W&J, and feels that his time at Ligonier Valley has readied him for the challenge ahead. Despite the constant adjustments Nick has had to make in football, he’s well aware that he can handle this transition period and is excited for another chapter in his athletic career.
“Just always be one of the hardest workers in the room, that’s what we always base our program on being,” said Beitel. “When I get to W&J I feel like if I can continue to work hard I can push the people around me to work hard and then we can get to where we want to be.”