Beale Classic already a tradition

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk lacrosse teammates, from left, Ryan Beale, Kyle Jett and Bobby Flintoff played collegiately as Beale and Flintoff played for Lynchburg and Jett played at conference rival Hampden-Sydney. Jett is the main organizer for the Ryan Beale Charity Golf Classic scheduled for June 17 at Nansemond River Golf Course. Jett started the event last June to raise money for Beale and his family after Beale was paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident.

When Kyle Jett dove into the idea of starting a charity golf tournament a little over a year ago, he wasn’t sure how many golfers and sponsors would join him.

Fortunately, Jett’s reason for putting in all sorts of time and energy is a longtime friend with lots of friends. So now, by the time of the second Ryan Beale Golf Classic coming up on

June 17 at Nansemond River Golf Club, the mission behind the tournament is a sure success.

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“One reason we have a lot of the same participants is because they love Ryan so much. He’s always such a positive influence. He’s happy and joking and he’s that way with everyone. It’s made my job easy. People want to come out,” Jett said.

Jett and Beale were three-sport standouts at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, and they were lacrosse and basketball teammates.

“Since around sixth or seventh grade, we were pretty much teammates all the time. We played in summer league lacrosse in Virginia Beach every year,” Jett said.

Beale, along with lacrosse, hoops and volleyball, played golf and worked at Nansemond River.

Jett continued his lacrosse career at Hampden-Sydney while Beale, one grade younger, went to Old Dominion Athletic Conference rival Lynchburg as a long-stick defender for the Hornets. The rivalry eased on breaks when Jett and Beale were back in Suffolk.

“During the summer and winter, we’d go to the YMCA to lift or train or run,” Jett said

On Oct. 17, 2009, during his junior year, Beale was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident.

“You never think something like this will happen to a good friend. It’s something you just hear about,” Jett said.

Seven months of care and rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, one of the best spinal cord injury facilities in the nation, was just the start of a difficult path for Beale and his family.

“There are (golf) tournaments every day but I think this one has really touched a lot of people around here because of Ryan and his family’s Suffolk roots,” Jett said.

Nansemond-Suffolk classmates and friends responded to the tournament as soon as Jett put the word out, but strangely so did lacrosse players from Cape Henry and Norfolk Academy who’d played against Beale and the Saints.

Friends from where the Beales and Jetts go to church were players and sponsors. Teammates from Lynchburg and Hampden-Sydney traveled from all over and are doing so again this time around.

The inaugural event raised $32,000 for The Ryan Beale Family Fund.

“We have guys coming in from Maryland and South Carolina, so we’re certainly working to make it as pleasant as possible,” Jett said.

Beale’s continuing classes and coaching lacrosse at Lynchburg. He has an apartment close to the center of campus. He’s passed a driving test and is waiting for modifications for his truck.

“He’s so well-liked because of his sense of humor. He still has it and it’s great that he’s still joking with us. It’s great because that’s how we know him, so it would’ve been difficult to see him not like that,” Jett said.

Last year’s tournament brought 140 golfers together. There are still a few foursomes left for this year’s Classic, set for a 1 p.m. shotgun start on June 17. The team entry fee is $500 and includes lunch, dinner, beverages and goody bags.

The 18 flags around Nansemond River will include sponsors and a well-known logo to anyone around a Saint sporting event since October ‘09.

Only slightly less prevalent than blue and gold clothing has been NSA students wearing T-shirts with two crossed lacrosse sticks and Beale’s No. 31 in Lynchburg red and black.

There will be prizes and a raffle. Anyone wishing to donate prizes is still welcome to do so. Jett’s used his rookie experience to become an organizing pro in this category.

Last year, former Saint goalkeeper Matt Holloman, while in Jett’s foursome, made a hole in one.

“I said, ‘Wow, great job, too bad I don’t have a prize for you,’” Jett said. An ace this year will be a $10,000 prize.

For more information, contact Jett at 647-9570 or or Lisa Hamlet at 477-3941.