Sports Pioneer Julia Beckman Dedicated 35 Years To Developing Girls’ Athletics in Brevard
By Maria Sonnenberg // June 11, 2022
2019 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – We should all aspire to embrace the years with the grace of Julia Beckman.
After living through 94 revolutions of the Earth around the Sun, Beckman remains active, outspoken and independent enough to tackle eight-hour solo car trips to visit relatives, but, then, that should be expected from the lady who pioneered sports in the Space Coast.
Born in Merritt Island in 1927, she has never strayed far from her hometown, except when a newly minted master’s degree in physical education from Vanderbilt University, she headed for a one-year teaching job in South Florida and a three-year stint as an assistant professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
“I was the women’s physical education department at Mercer,” she joked.
A dyed-in-the-wool Cocoa Tiger from her high school days, Beckman returned to her alma mater to handle the school’s women’s sports for 16 years, before heading to the Satellite High School, where she remained for 19 years with girls’ athletics and in the counseling office until her retirement in 1989.
With no varsity opportunities, her players sought her help to offer them wider-ranging opportunities for play. The result was the Girls’ Athletic Association, at the time a critical venue that allowed players the chance to compete with other teams.
Countless female players in basketball, volleyball, softball, track and field, gymnastics, cheerleading, tennis and golf owe Beckman the opportunity to hone their skills through competitive play.
Beckman had walked in her players’ shoes and knew the limitations they were facing.
“I played women’s softball and basketball during the time of World War II and knew how hard it could be for them,” she said.
“Back in what I call the “Dark Ages,” women were considered too delicate to play full-court basketball. Glad that changed.”
Today’s female athletes should be extremely grateful women like Beckman were there to help pave the way for them, striving on a daily basis, often tackling misconceptions and bigotry head-on in order to achieve rightful recognition her outstanding players deserved.
Throughout her long career, Beckman never had any doubts that her girls were simply the best.
“We were told that girls didn’t have the overall range, but as far as I was concerned, any of my girls could take on any varsity team in the state,” she said.
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