By Riley Nelson ’14
Juan Figueroa, Beaver’s Varsity Basketball coach, has been a teacher and a coach for more than two decades. He joined Beaver in 2009, and since then, the Varsity Basketball team has had some of its most successful years – including 5 EIL championships and NEPSAC qualifiers – and just this past season, Figueroa celebrated his 100th win at Beaver. Figueroa sat down with Beaver senior Riley Nelson to talk about his career and what he enjoys most about basketball.
As the school day comes to an end, Middle School math teacher, Juan Figueroa, tidies up his classroom for the day. The 7th and 8th graders leave with their questions answered, and in stumble a tall group of Upper School boys. Figueroa instantly switches mindsets to his other day job: coaching the Beaver Boys’ Varsity Basketball team. Coach Figueroa – or “Figs” as he’s fondly called – is a bit of a celebrity around the school. He’s known for being a patient and wonderful MS algebra teacher as well as a championship-winning, hardworking, dedicated coach.
In years past, Beaver basketball has garnered a reputation of being a very successful program, but Figueroa puts an equal amount of importance on what happens off the court.
“We try to get across respecting the game, your education, and instilling a work ethic in our players,” he said. “There’s a saying that goes ‘hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ I will always win with players that work hard in the classroom.”
Respect and community are also essential ingredients to a team coached by Figs.
“The laughing, joking, and bus rides are the memories we are going to look back on and remember 20 to 30 years from now,” Figs said.
His favorite part about coaching is the relationships that he builds with individual players. They end up becoming like family.
“I think of it as a full circle,” he said. “I am now teaching the values and life lessons my coach taught me, and my players will hopefully listen and tell their teams or kids what I told them.”
Being a coach for 25 years has given him a chance to attend graduations and weddings of former players, as he still keeps in touch with many of them. “It’s really, really powerful, getting to see that confused teenage boy grow into a strong man with a family,” he said. “That’s what makes coaching special, those moments.”
FUN FACTS ABOUT COACH FIGS
Favorite Professional Basketball Team:
Favorite College Team:
Duke, I’m a big Coach K fan.
Player I’d Like to play 1v1:
Player I’d Like to Coach:
Barbecue Potato Chips
None. I have no superstitions.
“Jump Around” by House of Pain was definitely the go to song in the school I previously coached at, but the guys don’t like to listen to music as a group in the locker room before a game.
Game I look forward to the most every year:
Pingree. They are our league rivals. Outside of the EIL, Brooks and Rivers are always good games.
Advice he would give to a potential Beaver basketball player:
Be dedicated and willing to take it seriously and work hard.