One of the state’s most trusted sportswriters will be honored this week as Bill Beck, the sports editor of the Elkhart Truth, has been selected by the IHSAA Executive Committee to receive the 2013-14 Distinguished Media Service Award for District 1.
Beck’s contributions to education-based athletics will be recognized on Friday prior to the Goshen at NorthWood high school football game in Nappanee. IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox and Sports Information Director Jason Wille will make the presentation.
Beck has worked at the Elkhart Truth his entire career starting out as a part-time sports writer in 1980 before catching on full-time in 1984. He was promoted to sports editor in 2002 coordinating a six-person sports department, including writing, editing and daily page designs. He also currently helps innovate and shape digital-era writing and coverage of news and sports.
He also was employed as sports director for WTRC, 1340 AM from 2005-2009 where he worked as play-by-play voice of Elkhart County area boys basketball and football for five seasons. He’s done similar work for WHME-TV as a color commentator and sideline reporter.
“Bill embodies the very spirit of what education-based athletics is all about,” says Nathan Dean, Director of Athletics and Activities at Jimtown High School. “Passion, excitement, commitment and the pursuit of excellence in his story-telling. He has the ability to connect with athletes, coaches and school administrators like few that I’ve ever encountered.”
Over his 34 years, he’s covered every IHSAA-sanctioned sport including 44 state championship contests involving Elkhart County schools, 26 of those in football.
Three high school events he’s covered stand out from the rest, however.
“Without peer, the most memorable contest I’ve ever covered was the historic 1990 IHSAA state boys basketball title game with Concord and Bedford North Lawrence,” he says.
That game, featuring all-staters Jamar Johnson of the Minutemen and Damon Bailey of the Stars, was played in front of a national high school record crowd of 41,046 fans at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Next on his list is the 2005 high school football season as area Hall of Fame coaches finished with state titles – Bill Sharpe of Jimtown won the last of his four championships and Rich Dodson earned his first at NorthWood.
He also holds in high regard the opportunity to cover another Hall of Fame coach – Steve Neff and the NorthWood girls basketball team’s run to the 1999 girls state basketball title, the first by any Elkhart County school.
Beck’s been honored numerous times over the years for his work receiving the Corky Lamm Award as Indiana’s top sports writer in 2011 from the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association and in 2010 he was hailed with a first place award in column writing by the Indiana Associated Press. He’s also been recognized by the Indiana Football Coaches Association (1993), the St. Joseph Valley Officials Association (2008) and Indiana Football Digest (2012).
The 53-year-old Beck and his wife Staci have three children, Christopher, Gina and Mason. He is a 1978 graduate of Goshen High School.
This is the 29th year the IHSAA has recognized outstanding members of the Indiana news media from each of its three legislative districts for excellence in the coverage of high school sports. District 1 covers 22 counties across northern Indiana. Beck is the first of three individuals to be honored this school year.