E.A. Sports Today

Wildcats mourn loss of teammate

White Plains golfer killed in early-morning wreck; team gathered Sunday morning

Keaten Beam was an "up and coming superstar" on the White Plains girls golf team. She is on the far right in the team picture on the cover.

Keaten Beam was an “up and coming superstar” on the White Plains girls golf team. She is on the far right in the team picture on the cover.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The wave of success White Plains’ golf teams have been riding the last two weeks was dampened Sunday with news of the death of one of their own in an early-morning car wreck.

Keaten Beam, a 16-year-old sophomore on the Wildcats’ girls team, was killed when the Jeep she was driving left the road on Highway 9 early Sunday morning. The accident remains under investigation, but teammates said she was returning to her parents’ home after a friend’s birthday party.

Last week, the White Plains girls team finished a close second in the Calhoun County Girls Championship. Its players, including Keaten, were following the boys team during its run to the first boys county championship in school history earlier in the day.

Keaten’s brother, Drennen, plays on the White Plains boys team.

“There are just a lot of mixed emotion right now,” White Plains golf coach Marcus Harrell said. “You’ve got, of course, a lot of pain and a lot of people with broken hearts. At the same time you’ve got an entire group of what we consider a family of the golf team … cherishing all the moments we had of Keaten.

“Keaten was definitely the life of the golf team and somebody we’ll, for sure, miss dearly.”

The White Plains players, coaches and parents gathered in the Pine Hill Country Club clubhouse Sunday morning with school officials and counselors to grieve and share memories of their teammate.

A school assembly is planned Monday morning where players and coaches are expected to speak. Arrangements are tentatively being planned for Wednesday.

“It’s so sad,” county boys runner-up Layton Bussey said. “She was really very much like my little sister. It’s rough.”

The Wildcats’ boys team is still going to play in the Oxford-Gadsden Invitational that starts Monday at Cider Ridge Golf Club. They were debating whether to withdraw, but the players requested they play.

Drennen Beam isn’t likely to be in the lineup, but the players said they would like for him to be with them.

“It was a team decision; the players asked,” Harrell said. “We were not going to play and they asked if there was any way possible to play, almost as a place away from all the stuff or an escape of the mixed emotions.

“They just wanted to play tomorrow. They said they were gonna go win one for Keaten.”

The Wildcats are paired with Hewitt Trussville, Oak Mountain and James Clements. With the assembly scheduled for the same time as the shotgun start, tournament officials will allow the team to arrive late, shuttle the players to their assigned groups in progress and then pair them with a marker to complete their remaining holes.

“We have no idea what they’re going through and just feel sorry for them,” Oxford coach and tournament co-director Cale Wright said. “I know those kids enjoy playing golf and we’re just trying to do everything we can to accommodate them.”

Harrell said Beam was an “up and coming superstar” in the program who was regularly battling for the fourth spot in the lineup this season.

He said she was excited Saturday after shooting one of her lowest rounds of the season after the boys county tournament cleared the course.

“She told me yesterday she finally figured it out,” Harrell said.

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