Practice makes perfect: Varsity football coach Melvin Bethany trains football players for the field and the classroom


Carson Lolley

Leading the running backs, coach Melvin Bethany uses his own experience playing football to help Varsity football against Ladue High school. Bethany has been the running back coach for the last 11 years. “He does a great job teaching the game,” sophomore Tyree Simms said. “He really wants to help players get better and meet their goals.”

By Michael Lolley, Parkway West High School

NFL Pro Bowler Ezekiel Elliott, Super Bowl champion Carey Davis and sophomore Tyree Simms. These athletes all have one thing in common: coach Melvin Bethany.

Bethany not only coaches varsity football, freshman boys basketball and track and field, but he also manages Running Performance, an athletic training center.

“We specialize in strictly running backs, but we also train different sports on how to run and how to be a more explosive athlete,” Bethany said. “Every sport involves running, and we can coach them how to come off the line in football right, or how to start off the blocks in track.”

Running Performance has trained famous professional athletes like Kansas State Alumnus Dalvin Warmack, along with training multiple high school running backs from the greater St. Louis area.

“Bethany is a big believer in running backs and trying to make the perfect running back,” Simms said. “He trains with heart, and he does his very best to help get you the training that you need.”

Meeting in the offseason once a week, the players attend the training to improve before the season starts.

“We only go on Sundays, and we’ve really learned to appreciate the time we have in the building,” Simms said. “It’s definitely worth it to be in there one day a week; there were some weeks when I couldn’t go because of transportation, but missing days just made me want to go harder the next week.”

He [Melvin Bethany] trains with heart, and he does his very best to help get you the training that you need.”

— sophomore Tyree Simms

Even former members like senior and varsity football player Sam Buehler use their past training to help them in games.

“A lot of what they teach translates directly onto the field. I think they’ve done a really good job of modernizing the way they teach,” Buehler said. “The game is definitely changing, and they do a great job of changing with it.”

Running Performance has an emphasis on in-game training during practices and teaching new techniques that are consistent from training to games.

“The coaches do a really good job of using their experience from college and in the NFL and reiterating what their coaches taught them and giving that information to us,” Buehler said.

Despite being designed to enhance athleticism, Running Performance also places an emphasis on education.

“We do our best to teach the young guys that school is just as important as football, and we try to explain how scholarships work in NCAA,” Bethany said. “Not only do we help train the game, but we also have study sessions and ACT and SAT prep courses to help with academics.”

Members, like Simms, have learned to take advantage of the ACT prep courses with the program.

“Something like the ACT is hard to prepare for,” Simms said. “My first time taking the pre-ACT, I realized it was harder than I thought, but they’ve really helped me be ready for the next time I take it.”

Bethany’s focus on sports and school are a large aspect of his life. Coaching three sports and running a performance center in the summer, he devotes a lot of time to sports in his everyday life.

“Coaching with the school gives me the opportunity to bring the school perspective to @trainrunit [Running Performance],” Bethany said. “We have a slogan where we say “carry the future,” which means a lot to me because it’s actually true. We believe we are building the future generation of running backs.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on October 16, 2019.