For Kathleen Beilein, exhibition game a win-win
Friday night, Kathleen Beilein was part mom, part wife and part usher.
As her family poured into Crisler Center, she stood in the aisle of Section 134 and gave out hugs to more than 25 cousins, aunts and uncles, distributing white T-shirts emblazoned with “MichiMoyne” to Beileins from all over the country.
Though Kathleen has watched more than 30 of her husband’s home openers, this time was different. Friday, she watched her son, Patrick, take the role of head coach just a scorer’s table away from her husband, Michigan basketball coach John Beilein.
The exhibition between Le Moyne and the Wolverines was close for roughly five minutes before Michigan ran away to a 74-52 victory.
Regardless of the outcome, the section clad in white cheered for both sides, remaining impartial throughout the game. After all, the Beileins have a lot to be happy about.
First-year Dolphins coach Patrick Beilein is filling the role his father played at Le Moyne in the 1980s and early 90s, allowing him to return to the place he grew up. The scenario is almost too good to be true, and cousins from Florida to New York came out for the game between Le Moyne’s past and present.
Though Kathleen, like the rest of her family, wanted there to be a way for both teams to win, she knew that win or lose, she had to find a way to get over her nerves because moments like these are far and few between.
“It was a win-win (for my mom),” Patrick said. “She was really good. She was maybe just as nervous as all of us, the whole family. It was a really interesting dynamic that we had never gone through before, and I’m just glad that it all played out well.”
According to Kathleen, the family has quite a few group chats, but the most active conversation is the one that involves her four children.
“We have a lot of group texts going on right now,” Kathleen said. “We have a lot of back-and-forth, and it makes it a lot of fun. It goes all season long.
“But (right now), there hasn’t been anything other than a lot of pride for Patrick, and obviously a lot of pride for John. Just a lot of respect.”
Exactly 30 years separate John from Patrick, but the two have a lot in common. If you ask John’s sister, Peggy, she’ll say they have “identical” mannerisms, except Patrick is more “low-key,” like his mother, Kathleen.
“I think Patrick could be a combination (of us),” Kathleen Beilein said. “I see a younger version of John when I look over at the Le Moyne bench. It’s really touching. It touches me.”
At certain points on Friday night, both Beileins could be seen with their hands on their hips, inquisitively looking at their players. Senior guard Caris LeVert said playing Le Moyne felt similar to playing his teammates in practice because the Dolphins were running the same offense.
Patrick always wanted to run a similar offense to his father’s, but before he developed coaching aspirations, he just always wanted to play basketball. According to Patrick’s cousin, Rosie Nickles (who traveled from Florida for the game), Patrick has always loved basketball. Nickles remembers childhood afternoons filled with shooting hoops with him in their grandma’s backyard.
For the Beileins, basketball and family mesh together.
“That’s one thing that is first and foremost to us, and that’s the family concept,” Patrick Beilein said. “For all of those cousins and aunts and uncles to come in from all over the country, it’s nice to see. It kinda sets you back to see how much it means to them and how much they are invested in our family.”
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh reached out to the elder Beilein earlier in the day to tell him to “enjoy the moment.” Harbaugh has experience working with family members, but he also has experience competing with them. His son, Jay, is his tight ends coach at Michigan, and he coached against his brother, John, in the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.
After the game concluded, John and Patrick lingered a little longer than normal at halfcourt. John was unsure if he should give his son a hug or a handshake and ended up doing something in between instead.
Beilein now wishes that he had asked Harbaugh what to do in that situation. But there was plenty of time to give hugs after the game in the Crisler Club, where his sizeable family congregated post-game.
Kathleen stood out from the crowd, donning a different handmade shirt of her own. Last weekend, when Patrick visited his parents, he brought a Le Moyne T-shirt with him at his mother’s request, but had no idea what she planned on doing with it.
The end product spelled out “Michigan” on top, with a sewn-on Le Moyne logo directly beneath it.
“I’m not sure if she sewed it herself, but she might have, so that’s pretty neat,” Patrick Beilein said. “She’s making a statement, I guess.
“She can do that. She’s Mrs. Beilein.”