RENSSELAER — He got his first job working at a candy store at age 9.
Around that time, too, Brian Beaury joined his first basketball team.
And up until he retired last October from his post as The College of Saint Rose men’s basketball head coach, the 58-year-old always had a job and a team.
So, yes, the last eight months have been different for Beaury.
A challenge, for sure.
But he also feels much better, even as he misses the game.
“It’s really been remarkable in some ways,” Beaury said Wednesday at Rensselaer Junior/Senior High School, where approximately 100 area youngsters are participating this week in his Brian Beaury Basketball Camp. “I was going nowhere with it.”
The “it” was the pain Beaury dealt with for so many years, pain that led to him having multiple surgeries and to miss a pair of seasons late in his more-than-three-decades-long coaching tenure at Saint Rose. Not long after Beaury retired after initially announcing he planned to take a second consecutive season off to deal with health issues, Beaury received a diagnosis for what had hurt him for so many years.
In the months since that point, Beaury has been able to receive treatment for Ankylosing spondylitis, which the Mayo Clinic describes as “an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse.”
Since he started treatment, Beaury said he has lost 25 pounds. He moves better. Smiles easier.
“I’ve had some success with treatment for it, and it’s remarkable. I’m glad I know what I know now. I just wish I would have known it a long time ago because I’ve had it all my life,” said Beaury, whose Saint Rose program went 643-326 in his years leading it and made it to the Division II national semifinals in 1998. “But it’s not going to stop me from being who I am and doing what I am doing.”
So his camp rolled on into its 35th year, a camp that Beaury’s daughter Alex Meehan helps run. This week is the middle one of three for a camp that prides itself on teaching fundamentals and life lessons, and is an endeavor Beaury “never” considered not doing after his retirement and subsequent diagnosis.
“I found my inspiration as a young kid at a basketball camp,” said Beaury, who as a child growing up in Astoria attended a camp put on by former NBA player and coach Kevin Loughery. “Believe it or not, my coach at that camp was [former Siena head coach] Mitch Buonaguro. I caught the bug there. I loved being around it.”
In his season without a team of his own, Beaury regularly visited high school and colleges practices all around the Capital Region. That includes trips to Saint Rose to see his old team, which is now coached by Mike Perno, a former player and assistant coach for Beaury.
“I have a lot of faith in him, especially as a man,” Beaury said of Perno. “He looks after his people and I think that’s important. He knows his mission, and that’s to use basketball as a tool to get guys their degrees and get them ready for their next place in life.”
Last season, Beaury also caught a number of high school girls’ basketball games, too, with his wife Mary Ann Beaury, who Brian Beaury first met when both were athletes at Saint Rose. At the practices he attended and games he watched, Beaury tried to keep learning about basketball and how to coach it.
“I’ll go to football practices, too, because they words and terms that I haven’t used,” Beaury said. “I like words. I think it’s important to find simple ways to teach things, and I’m always looking for better ways.”
And, as long as his body continues to feel right, Beaury said he would consider coming out of retirement to coach somewhere in some capacity. He is not “actively pursuing” a coaching role, but the right opportunity could change that.
“Sure. I would like to coach. I miss being a part of a team,” said Beaury, who lives in Cohoes. “I don’t know where that will go, or even if it will go anywhere. I like the area and our family is here, and that’s important to us. But I’d consider anything that made sense, even doing something somewhere else for six, seven months a year.”
For right now, though, Beaury is happily leading his camp, at which former Saint Rose player Garth Joseph — a 7-foot-2 center whose long professional playing career included time with multiple NBA teams — stopped through Wednesday to speak to campers. In particular, Beaury took pride Wednesday in that each of the half-day campers — kids ages 5 through 7 — made a shot on a regulation basket before heading home.
“The games are my least favorite part of the day,” Beaury said. “I like the teaching.”
That’s the coach in him.
“It’s fun to be in the gym all day,” Beaury said. “That’s where I belong.”