OAKLAND — At one time, Byron Beam was the fastest boy in the state when it came to long-distance running.
First in 1965, then in 1967, he won the Class AA cross-country championship for Kenwood High in Baltimore County.
Its been about 25 years since then, but not much has changed.
Well, maybe it has.
Byron still jogs -- he would never give up hisfirst love. Only these days, the 42-year-old resident of this neighborhood near Eldersburg concentrates less on running fast times and more on running a family with his wife and other love, Yvette, herself a life-long athlete.
If they aren't careful, the rest of the Beam family might just pass them in the fast lane. Children Ian, 16, Carie, 14, and Luke, 10, all have developed an interest in athletics, especially running.
Yvette Beam says, in fact, the
biggest race is the one for the family shower stall at the end of the day.
"If there's only two games going on at once, that's good," said Yvette Beam."Byron will go to one, and I'll go to the other. When all three kidswere playing rec soccer, oh, that was a killer."
Both Ian and Carie run for the Liberty High cross-country team, while Luke dabbles ineverything from basketball to street hockey. Despite his asthma, theBeam's youngest son says he too would like to run track as a sprinter.
That's enough to keep any parents on the run. The Beam's, however, don't seem to mind.
"The way I was brought up, you went to school, did your homework, then played a sport," said Yvette, a longtimelacrosse player and swimmer.
She did those things for many years before recent foot problems relegated her to the sidelines as head cheerleader.
With so much to cheer about, she and Byron have the toughest jobs in the family.
Ian, a junior at Liberty High and eldestof the Beam children, is in the midst of his best cross-country season ever. At a recent meet at Thomas Johnson, he flew past his personal record by almost a minute, crossing the tape in 17 minutes, 41 seconds.
Though he sometimes gets the feeling that people expect more from his running, he trains hard to prove something to himself.
"Nothing's ever really said, but sometimes you get the feeling that everyone's waiting for me to do as well as my dad," he said. "I used to feel a lot of pressure to measure up to him, but not so much anymore.
"He's never tried to push me to do something I didn't want to do.Now, I just do it for myself."
Dad thinks Ian, now 6-foot-2 and 145 pounds, needs to put on a few pounds to reach his potential.
Dad should know.
He was the alternate on the 1970 NCAA champion Villanova cross-country team. Whenever possible, he helps his son and daughter train.
"I'm excited about (Ian's) future," said Byron Beam, a former cross-country coach at Francis Scott Key. "The potential is there. I see that. He just has to mature physically."
While the father said he doesn't interfere with what Liberty Coach Brad Hill teaches during the week, Byron Beam does give his kids pointers on weekends.
Carie will attest to that.
"He's always out running around the course telling me 'Keep your head up,' or 'Pump your arms,' or something," she said.
Carie didn't think she'd like long-distance running at first, but
grew to love it. She says she finds it exhilarating to watch her times improve in this, her first year in the sport.
She said that having a brother on the team made the transition into the sport a bit easier, though "When I've seen him at track meets, he tells me we're not supposed to know each other," said Carie, whotakes being the only girl in the family in stride.
"Being the only girl gives me more of the attention. Besides, if I'm playing a sport and someone is being really rough, I'm used to it with two brothers."
The only time Carie feels at a disadvantage is when arguing themerits of women's lacrosse with her brothers and father. It's at these times, however, when mom steps in.
As a student at Western Maryland College, Yvette Beam helped initiate the women's lacrosse program.
"That was my proudest moment in sports," she said. "I went to that school without knowing they didn't have a women's lacrosse team. Every year I would beg them to start one, and finally when I was a senior, we got a team."
More recently, she's been a major influence in opening the sport to girls at Franklin High and in the Freedom Optimist Lacrosse League. She's also tried to preserve the sport's integrity as a coach and referee.
"It's a different sport than the men's game," she said, "and I think it's beautiful. Coaching and officiating can have a big effect on how the sport is played."
Both parents have developed rules to help let their kids have an active lifestyle. One rule, for instance, dictates nobody watches television Monday through Thursday.
For Luke, the youngest, that one took some getting used to.
"It was hard to do at first," he said. "I'd come home and want to watch something. I'm still a little TV maniac on the weekends, but now I like to go out and do things. That's more fun."
For the Beam family, having fun with sports is what it's all about.
"The kids see that activity is part of your life," Yvette Beam said. "It's part of who we are."