Around the Cooler – Swamp Stories: Beemer’s Back

When personal trainer Gary Beemer walked around the weight room at the University of Florida’s Student Recreation and Fitness Center or Southwest Recreation Center, few people he passed by knew exactly who he was.

Having spent my first three years at Florida working for the Department of Recreational Sports at Florida as an Operations Supervisor, I occasionally bumped into Beemer.

Still, it wasn’t until a few months after I first ran into him at the on-campus gym that I realized where I recognized him from.

After working an early afternoon shift at Student Rec, I immediately headed over to the practice football fields to cover spring football practice.

A few minutes after I got there, players started trickling in. As I marked them off on my roster to check for injuries or no-shows, I looked up and noticed a big guy with golden, curly locks flowing out as he trotted across to the second practice field to join the defensive linemen.

It was No. 61, Gary Beemer.

Florida fans would get to know him in the fall of 2010.

On Nov. 20, Beemer, a walk-on defensive tackle at Florida, had his Rudy moment, one I’ll never forget.

On first down against Appalachian State, with a few minutes remaining, he charged into the line of scrimmage for a three-yard gain down to the one.

On second down, he rushed up the middle for no gain.

On third down, Beemer plunged into the end zone, providing the Florida faithful with one of the true feel-good moments of the 2010 season.

As Beemer ran down the sideline with golden locks flowing behind him and a look of sheer giddiness on his face, I couldn’t help but think it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

Though my interactions with him were fairly brief and limited to the confines of the RecSports facilities, there wasn’t a nicer guy to work with.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when the University of Florida announced Tuesday that Beemer received the 2011 John Stucky Award, given to those who mirror Coach John Stucky’s commitment and influence on the strength and conditioning profession.

According to a University of Florida press release, “Stucky was the strength and conditioning coach for several universities during his career, including Kansas State, Wichita State, Arkansas, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.  During his time at Tennessee, the Volunteers won the 1998 National Championship.  In 2007, Stucky lost his life to cancer.  He mentored many men and women training to be strength coaches during his lifetime, and many who learned the profession under Stucky are well-known in the field today.”

Beemer has continued his post-football career as an intern in the Florida strength and conditioning department.

While his play last fall will never be an undying memory for the vast majority of Florida fans, I can assure you there isn’t a more quality person representing the Gators.

For that, the Gator Nation should be proud.

Thumbs up for Haslem, Miller, thumbs down for Noah

In the last edition of Around the Cooler – Swamp Stories, I said that I would be shocked if Joakim Noah didn’t come out with a renewed energy and determination that would really fuel the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Well, I was only partially right.

Noah came out with plenty of energy, but it ended up resulting in two early fouls and frustration. Things got worse when Noah went to the bench and hurled some inappropriate insults at a fan.

Given Noah’s competitiveness, I’m not altogether surprised he got frustrated and made a mistake like he did.

To his credit he owned up to it and apologized. Now it’s time for him to refocus and figure out some way to become a factor again in the series.

If he doesn’t, the series will end much quicker than I expected.

While Udonis Haslem didn’t have the same impact on the stat sheet in Game 3 as he did in his Game 2 performance, he was still a key to the Miami Heat’s success.

Simply having him on the floor for that series has been a big boost to Miami. He’s seemingly given the Heat a confidence in the paint that hasn’t been there most of the year.

Teammate Mike Miller has struggled for much of the year, but he’s finally starting to get used to playing with his thumb injuries.

That’s resulted in more minutes and better play in the postseason. The Miami Herald reports that Miller is likely to undergo thumb surgery in the offseason.

Jermaine Cunningham working for more playing time

While the NFL lockout drags on, there’s one former Gators player who’s making sure he gets all the work in he can to increase his role if and when the 2011 season takes place.

Former Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, now a converted outside linebacker, had a surprisingly good rookie season for the New England Patriots.

I had my doubts about how effective Cunningham would be in the NFL, but so far he’s proved me wrong.

In fact, it seems that the Patriots think Cunningham could be key to their development on defense, as they steered away from drafting an outside linebacker in the NFL Draft this year.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in following the NFL, it’s that I should always trust Bill Belichick’s judgment over mine.

At least when it doesn’t involve videotaping.

The Around the Cooler – Swamp Stories feature is an informal commentary provided by Thomas Goldkamp on current Florida Gators news. These are just his opinions, and if you disagree, feel free to let him have it in the comments section below or on Twitter!

Thomas Goldkamp is the Gator Country beat reporter for football, basketball and basketball recruiting. You can find his latest stories here and get breaking Univ. of Fla. news on Twitter at GoldkampGC.