Faith and love. These are two of the most important words to Austin McBeth, a former Iowa State football and basketball player turned assistant basketball coach at Truman State for the last two seasons.
McBeth has been a coach for a few years, but he saw something wrong with the profession he loved and was swayed to write a book about it.
"We were in the middle of our basketball season my first year at Truman State and just after one of our games God just gave me the idea," McBeth said. "... God just gave me the idea to write a book just about something that was kind of on my mind and on my heart at the time."
McBeth's book is called "The Sweet Sixteen," and it's something that McBeth said he had been thinking a lot about how coaches are acting as if they are teaching and coaching through love but in reality that's just a smoke screen for yelling, anger and a desire to win above all else.
Writing was not something McBeth was passionate about, but growing up as a multisport athlete and seeing everything he saw, McBeth developed a passion for coaching and later became concerned with the direction of his passion.
Growing up, football and basketball were important to him, but coming out of a small town in Iowa, McBeth flew under the radar and missed his original chance at a Division I school.
After one season at Iowa Western where he played quarterback, then-Iowa State Head Coach Paul Rhoads recruited him as a preferred walk-on to play for Iowa State.
He spent his time on the football team as the backup quarterback, but due to a lack of playing time, McBeth made the basketball team as a guard.
Entering a few games over the course of three seasons, McBeth finished his collegiate athletic career and took up coaching — entering the path that brought him to "The Sweet Sixteen."
"When I finished, I knew that I wanted to get into coaching," McBeth said. "Kind of between my junior and senior year is when I realized I wasn't gonna make it to the NBA... I kind of just developed this love for 'man I want to coach. I want to help guys get better and pursue their dreams.'"
He took multiple coaching gigs on his route to Truman State, including a one-year stop at Montreat College in North Carolina, an assistant coaching job at Des Moines Area Community College in Boone and a full-time assistant job at Illinois Springfield before being named assistant coach to Jeff Horner at Truman State.
At Truman State is where he came up with his idea for the book and he credits some of the way he views positive coaching to James McNear, his football coach at Iowa Western.
McBeth said he has had coaches all over the spectrum of what he views as a good coach, but the one that was the most inspirational to him was McNear.
McNear's philosophy is much like McBeth's: teach his players through love.
"That's really my coaching style, just showing love to young men who really could've been lacking and really showing even the ones who may not have been lacking that you could be loved by an adult male and it not be your father or your uncle," McNear said. "I was a players' coach as well. I truly enjoyed being around them."
McNear and McBeth have been in contact ever since, even with McBeth's switch to basketball. McNear played a big role in McBeth's life that still lasts today and is one of the inspirations for his book.
"The Sweet Sixteen," is not the first book McBeth has written however, with his previous book, titled 'The Gap Theory," being a book about some of his basketball theories that were loosely based on some theories he learned during his time at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg.
Despite multiple books, McBeth's passion comes in what he's writing about, not the writing itself.
"It is so outside of who Austin McBeth is and what I'm about," McBeth said. "If I were picking between writing a book and doing 55 other things, I'm thinking that writing would probably fall under my priorities around 53 or 54.
"It's just not something that's on my radar."
McBeth's main focus and driving force for this book was what love looks like in coaching. Much of his drive to write and talk about this comes from his strong faith.
Along with faith, the factor of power and influence that coaches have was another reason that he wanted to speak on this topic as he has recognized that coaches have influence that go beyond the scope of just the players on the court.
"I started thinking about coaches, they throw this word around like 'I love you guys, I wouldn't trade this team for any other team in the world,' and while that may very well be true and sometimes it's said to make players feel wanted than used in the wrong way," McBeth said. "I just look at guys that are doing what I want to do and being head coaches and you see we're just such public figures as head coaches, especially at the Division I level and the NBA and NFL and all the televised programs, that you see coaches all the time and just the yelling and the screaming and hearing about all the abuse that goes on behind closed doors and the way coaches cuss out players and degrade them and unfortunately you now hear about the physical abuse that goes on."
McBeth has seen this go on in a profession he loves and he wants it to stop. Writing "The Sweet Sixteen" is one of the ways he feels he can help make that happen.
The book is about how to coach with love and how to value the players and value the position and influence that a coach has, but when McBeth was writing the book, he only thought of the name because of his strong faith.
When McBeth and his now-wife were going through premarital counseling with their pastor, their pastor talked about a certain Bible verse that stuck out to McBeth.
"He was talking about 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, which is the love chapter in the Bible, and he called them 'the sweet sixteen' and I was like 'What?' and he goes 'you never heard that' and I said no and he goes 'well yeah there's 16 traits or attributes of love that the Bible talks about," McBeth said.
It was a year before he started writing the book, but the name stuck with him and when he decided to write the book, he knew what he would call it.
"The Sweet Sixteen."