Shepherd’s Abby Beeman, facing no season, works to improve her game

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Shepherd's Abby Beeman is seen here in action during her record-breaking freshman season.  The Frankfort grad, faced with not having a season this year, has doubled down on her efforts to improve her game.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

SHORT GAP - Two years ago, on Saturday, Jan, 26, 2019, in a game against Fairmont Senior, Abby Beeman drove to the basket from the left side and hit the shot with 4:38 remaining in the third period that would give her 2,001 points for her high school career at Frankfort.  

Earning 1,000 points in a high school career is considered a notable milestone. Where Beeman went, the 2,000- point club, is rarified air.

Rarified air is perhaps the best way to describe where Abby Beeman landed herself after an extremely successful freshman season at Shepherd University as well. In her freshman campaign, Beeman finished 24th overall in scoring in all of Division II basketball. More notable, however, is that her 592 points (19.7 average per game), made her the leading freshman scorer in the nation, number one.

In addition, Beeman set the freshman scoring record at Shepherd, a mark that had stood since 1978. For Beeman, however, it wasn’t the scoring she was most proud of, but rather the record- breaking amount of assists she racked up. Her 219 assists was not only a Shepherd single-season record, but placed her second overall in the entire country at the Division II level in total assists and assists per game.

To say Abby Beeman’s progression from Frankfort’s all-time scoring leader to the next year setting records and making her mark at Shepherd meant that she was on fire is underselling just how on fire Beeman was, or is, depending on how you look at it.

You see, the problem now is that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, the one in which Shepherd and Beeman compete, has effectively cancelled their basketball season. It’s true that Shepherd may be able to muster some semblance of a schedule, but the maximum allowable games is six, and that’s if Shepherd can find teams willing to play them.

So, maybe something will develop, but it will be mere crumbs compared to the veritable feast that is the normal 30-game slate.

“No games are officially scheduled as of now,” Beeman explained.

So, does this mean that Abby Beeman is limited in the basketball she is playing? If you think for a minute anything will keep Beeman from playing basketball, you obviously don’t know Abby Beeman.

“I know some people might be using this as a little break, but I’m taking full advantage of it by getting better and adding stuff to my game,” Beeman explained. “I wouldn’t have any accolades if it wasn’t for all the work that I have put in over the years, so I try to keep that in mind every day.”

Speaking of every day, it’s that daily grind that’s been the hallmark of Beeman’s game, that everyday improvement by pushing herself to the limit. Yes, there has been some Shepherd sanctioned practice, both in the fall and even now. In the space between, Beeman kept herself busy in the gym every day as she always has, by organizing and participating in pick up games she knows will challenge her.

“We were still practicing in the fall semester. Over winter break though, I was getting in the gym every day working and playing pick up a few days a week to still get some live basketball in.  We are starting to get back into practicing for this semester with the possibility of maybe getting a few games in,” Beeman explained.

Those pick-up games. As has been her custom, dating back to her early high school days, “Yes, I’ve been playing pick-up games against guys. I feel that is what helps my game the most.”

While nothing will stop Beeman from working to improve her game through daily practice, she’s the first to admit that the absence of real games already has and will continue to take its toll.

“It’s been pretty tough on me knowing that we aren’t going to have a season this year. I’m going to miss the games so much, I’ve never been this long without basketball. I love the game day feeling more than anything, just knowing you have a game and being excited for it all day,” Beeman explained.

According to Beeman, “It is definitely something I took for granted, so when I am finally able to play a game again, I’m going to take it all in.”

Abby Beeman finished her amazing career at Frankfort as the Falcons’ all-time leading scorer with 2,217 career points. In addition, to complete her all-around game, the diminutive point guard also tallied 547 rebounds, 540 assists, 404 steals, and 345 three-pointers, all while playing in 102 career games. When you factor in the team success of the Lady Falcons over that span, it’s a high school career nothing short of amazing.

The crazy thing is, as Beeman demonstrated in her freshman season at Shepherd, there’s nothing even the more advanced college game can throw at her to slow her down. For her opponents, it’s scary to think that she really is just getting started.

A lesser driven, less dedicated athlete might let the cancellation of this season due to COVID halt her progress. As she pointed out, those less driven might consider this lull in the action as a nice little break. Beeman, however, is doubling down on her normal grind to improve her game.

Before it’s all said and done, Abby Beeman is likely to reset the record books at Shepherd as she did at Frankfort.  Her drive, her dedication, her work ethic, it’s what sets the great ones apart from the crowd.