Beth Hale

Beth Hale

A knee injury disrupted Beth Hale’s collegiate basketball career.

A warehousing job delayed her foray into education.

Nothing, however, could permanently obstruct a path that, in her heart, Hale knew – felt in her being – needed to be spent around young people; in coaching, in education, in leadership and mentorship.

More than 30 years later, Hale has helped shape the lives of hundreds of students at Millington Central High School.

Now, she’s being honored as one of 10 TSSAA Distinguished Service Award recipients for the 2023-24 academic year.

“It is because of the kids; celebrating the kids, celebrating their accomplishments, of being there for them when they need you,” said Hale. “I tell the kids this: Find a career. Don’t find a job. Find a career. You either go to work or you enjoy going to a place and being a part of it.

“I truly enjoy being here, being part of it, watching as they’re growing into adults and coming back and contributing. Every day is a different day.”

Few have the career experiences of Hale, a one-time college basketball player at Union University who was sidelined due to a knee injury.

With softball options at other regional programs, Hale instead opted to begin her career climb as a student-assistant coach or manager.

When she graduated and got her first teaching job, Hale realized in a relatively brief time that elementary education was not her vocation.

“I went into teaching and coaching little kids and taught two years at an elementary school,” Hale said. “That was one of life’s big decisions, and I decided those little kids weren’t for me.

“I was going to get out of education, went into the warehouse world and coaching adult teams for a couple years.”

Hale, however, pushed herself to do more. She completed her master’s at then-Memphis State University and was alerted to an opportunity to return to education in a high school setting – at Millington Central.

Some three decades later, Hale has coached basketball, softball and volleyball; she’s served as athletics director and assistant principal.

Most importantly, she’s never stopped serving.

“It’s always been the kids and the kids at the high school level can communicate and talk and you can have an impact with a smile, a conversation, a hello,” Hale, whose first love was softball but who valued the opportunity at Union over departing the area for one of those opportunities, shared. “Here at Millington, we have a very diverse population from some of the wealthiest people in our area to some of the poorest. It’s a great thing to see these kids get along and have empathy and work together and establish these bonds.

“When we celebrate these kids going to college and playing sports at the next level and celebrate the fact that they’ve chosen to go to college to become nurses, doctors, dentists, lawyers, you look back and you’re like, ‘Wow!,’” Hale said. “Look where those kids have gone. Right here at Millington, there are some young people that I taught and interacted with who are now back here teaching.”

TSSAA proudly salutes Beth Hale for her numerous years of service and contribution to student-athletes in Tennessee.