Sidelines at Westlake boys soccer games will be different when the fall season begins in August.
Mike Besu, who coached the Demons for the past 33 years and helped mold the program into one of the most consistent in the area, stepped down last week for unspecified reasons, leaving a void that athletic director Tony Cipollone will attempt to fill during an ongoing coaching search that is already underway.
Besu, who will remain at the school as an educational aide going forward, will tough to replace. During his long tenure, which began in 1987, he amassed a 434-124-67 record, while adding five Southwestern Conference championships, an SWC Coach of the Year award and a pair of Plain Dealer Division I Coach of the Year honors (in 2008 and 2015).
In 1993 and 2004, he guided the Demons to the state semifinal. Last season, the Demons went 6-9-3, ending with a Div. I 2-0 loss to Strongsville in the sectional final.
“Obviously, he had a great run here, and I’m sure we’re going to miss him next year,” Cipollone said. “He’s still going to be in the building next year, so that’s great. Winning all the conference championships that he did and all the victories that he brought to us, obviously, that’ll be a little bit of a change in that program. And hopefully we’ll adapt to the change, and sometimes a new perspective is needed. And that’s where we’re going at this point.”
Besu’s coaching exploits weren’t just relegated to Westlake, though. He started the girls program at Lake Ridge Academy and pulled double-duty for two seasons, coaching both teams before sticking solely with the Demons. Outside of the school, he continued to give youth camps at the Westlake Rec Center and the Westside Stars Soccer Club.
“Throughout his career, he was a very endearing coach and an unforgettable character,” Cipollone said in a statement released last Wednesday. “He was a well-known personality in the soccer community and his demeanor brought smiles and laughter from many who interacted with him.”