Head Coach Clyfe Beckwith, a veteran member of the Andover athletic community, has coached Andover Girls Volleyball for 18 years. Over the course of his time with Andover, Beckwith has secured three New England championships and three second-place finishes.
Before arriving at Andover, Beckwith played competitive volleyball in Switzerland and worked with the Swiss Junior National Team. Later in his career, he competed at the collegiate level, playing at Dartmouth College for four years. With his countless years of experience, Beckwith was prepared to oversee an excellent volleyball program at Andover.
During his first few years as a volleyball coach, Beckwith maintained an intense protocol focused on winning the Nepsac Championship. Over the course of a few seasons, Beckwith, however, realized that his coaching philosophy could be altered to better fit the needs of the team.
Beckwith said, “When I first started coaching it was all about ‘I’ve got to win, I’ve got to win, I’ve got to win,’ and we didn’t have any fun, so we didn’t win. So I just changed my philosophy around this. I said ‘c’mon let’s make this fun,’ and as soon as we started having fun, we started winning.”
After Beckwith implemented his new coaching ideas, the team achieved success in 2003, bringing home the New England championship.
Beckwith said, “It took about four years for me to figure out and then that fifth year they won the championship. It was [due to] that switch.”
While transforming the team, Beckwith focused on improving team cohesion and unity rather than focusing on individual athletes.
Describing her experience with Beckwith’s coaching style, Captain Evelyn Mesler ’17 said, “He has helped me understand the importance of a cohesive team and a cohesive team spirit, so [we’ve been] working on that not just in practice but outside of practice and I’ve seen the difference it makes because I’ve been on teams when the dynamic has been great and I’ve been on teams where the dynamic really hasn’t been there.”
After defeating Taft in the New England Preparatory Fall Girls Volleyball Association championship in 2003, Beckwith has continued to encourage the players to work hard every game. He focuses on how well each game went for the team and how well each individual played regardless of the final score.
“I don’t even mind if we lose [or] if we play well. I don’t like the wins when we don’t play well, and I really don’t like it when we don’t play well and we lose, which we’ve had a couple this season, when the energy just wasn’t important, there was just no communication,” said Beckwith.
As an Instructor in Physics, Beckwith values athletics and the importance of team spirit in the lives of all students outside of the classroom.
Beckwith said, “It’s not a graded endeavor. The students, the players, they want to be here. It becomes a family – you can have as many academic discussions in the classroom that you want but you’re not going to get the same commitment in the classroom that you do on the field. That’s why it’s fun.”
All athletes who work with Beckwith see him not only as a volleyball coach, but also as an adult advisor in their daily lives. He unites the team with strong volleyball skill and brings them together outside of practice to become a cohesive group.
Serena Liu ’19, a two-year Lower on the team, said, “It is so great to have him as a coach. He is such a great coach, he lifts us up, he mentors us both on the court and off the court. We have a bunch of team dinners at his house, he’s such a great person who can lead us through not only volleyball but through school life and outside of the court as well.”
This season, Andover is off to a strong start, with a record of 6-5. The team looks to end the season strong in the games to come. After an important win against Northfield Mount Hermon last weekend, Beckwith and the team are prepared to take on more games with a positive attitude and a will to compete.