N-CHS Head Football Coach Matt Beam resigns to focus on the family - Defensive Coordinator Darren Ponder named Interim Head Coach

Staff Writer

Newton -- Newton-Conover head football coach Matt Beam has announced his resignation as the head football coach at Newton-Conover High School.

​Coach Beam has led the program at N-CHS for the past four seasons. Over the last four years, Beam’s commitment to the team has been unwavering.

“What’s important to me has changed. I was chasing football wins every day. To be a very good head coach, you have to chase that to be successful. If you do it right, you take them to camp, to 7 on 7s, do spring workouts, summer workouts, and so on. Ultimately, Football is a 365 day a year job. But for example, as my son is the Quarterback at Kings Mountain Elite, I’ve missed games because I give everything to my team, but you can’t get that time back,” Beam said.

Beam will continue through the end of the school year before transitioning into his new venture: Beam Boys Bargains.

“The next step for me is going to Lincolnton to pursue my dream and start a new business, Beam Boys Bargains. We will be opening our business to resell overstocked products from retailers at a wholesale liquidated price. I’m excited and very nervous about this opportunity, but it happened so quickly. This isn’t just a coaching change, it is a whole career change,” Beam said.

For Beam, this decision provides him with the opportunity to focus on his family.

“When I started head coaching thirteen years ago at North Lincoln, I had no kids and just was married. I’ve been here [at N-CHS] for four years, and they have been a great four years. This is very hard because I have put my life into this team, and being without that is a total life change. I’ve enjoyed my time here at N-CHS. I took over a program that was 1-10 in 2013, and our kids really accepted me and were willing to work. They have worked hard, they have been diligent in what they did on the field and in the weight room,” Beam said.

Mr. Chris Penley, Principal of Newton-Conover High School, reinforced Beam’s work ethic and relationships with his players and his peers.

“Matt Beam is a tireless worker. He is as student-centered as any head coach I’ve ever been around. He is tirelessly advocating for students with college coaches to give them an opportunity to play at the next level. He builds tremendous relationships with players and their families. He’s had kids stay in his home, he’s provided transportation, and so much more. These are all things that help to drive him to being a good coach. He’s one of the best in strength and conditioning that I’ve been around. I want to thank Matt Beam for everything that he has done for our program and wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors,” Penley said.

Moving forward, a familiar face will be standing in as the Interim Head Coach of the N-CHS Football Team: Darren Ponder.

“I’m extremely excited. I get to pursue a goal that I’ve always had, being a head coach at a very reputable football program. The most important thing for me right now is our boys. Right now, my main focus is to get our kids together and fighting together as one team. For me in general, it’s always been about the kids. I still love kids. I love to see them get better, stronger, successful, and play in college,” Ponder said.

Ponder has served N-CHS as the Defensive Coordinator since 2016. He started teaching and coaching career in 1998 at Mitchell High School. During his time at Mitchell, Ponder served as Baseball Coach, Wrestling Coach, Assistant Athletic Director, the Western Highlands Conference President, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, Assistant Head Football Coach, and Athletic Director until 2007. After Ponder’s departure from Mitchell High, he served as head football coach and Athletic Director at Madison High School, after which he was named Defensive Coordinator at West Lincoln High School. Ponder served as the Athletic Director and Defensive Coordinator at Burns High School following his tenure at West Lincoln, where he returned to serve as the Assistant Head Coach before coming to Newton-Conover High School in 2016.

Ponder’s goals for the team are built upon a strong belief in dedication, trust, and hard work.

“We have got to build a team that trusts each other first, who trusts their coaches. My goals are just like everyone else’s: conference championship and state championship, and I believe that can be attained here, with all sincerity. My philosophy is that we are going to outwork and outhit whomever we play and will be better prepared. As far as school, I want the kids to graduate with a college degree if that is their pathway, or a reputable job. I want them to be productive citizens of our community,” Ponder said.

Mr. Penley shared his excitement for Coach Ponder to transition into this new role providing leadership to the N-CHS Football Team moving forward.

“I think Darren is energetic. He is getting ready to start his third year in our program and he has built relationships that will continue to swing the N-CHS Football pendulum in an upward manner. He is student-centered. He’s got twenty years of experience, the last two in Newton-Conover. His dedication is second-to-none. We look forward to him leading our Red Devil Football Program,” said Penley.

Athletic Director Mr. John Echerd shared his appreciation for both Beam and Ponder, their positive outlook and their dedication to students.

“I will miss the way that Matt was able to motivate students not only on the field but in the classroom. His weight room is the best I’ve ever seen because of what he gets out of kids in the room. His ability to motivate on the football field is second-to-none. The students are going to miss him here, but the staff will too, here at Newton-Conover High School. I’m excited that Coach Ponder is going to take over the program. He has a great rapport with the athletes in our school and works really well with the staff. I truly believe that our athletes will come out and be ready to play for him,” Echerd said.