Frank's Front Line: Beamer's secretary critical to Hall of Fame career

NEW YORK (WDBJ) -- For every Hall of Fame coach there's a team behind the scenes that helps make winning possible.

For Frank Beamer, the captain of that team was Diana Clark.

"Sometimes they say we're a little bit like Radar and Col. Potter on M*A*S*H," she said. "Sometimes I knew what he wanted before he knew it."

Clark has worked as Beamer's administrative assistant for 20 years, serving as the front line between the coach and the countless requests to court his attention.

She kept morale high, especially after a Hokies' loss.

"Coach Beamer coming from Hillsville and Fancy Gap, my being from Southwest Virginia, we all love pinto beans and cornbread," Clark said. "When I would make them for my family, I just started taking some for him, so it was kind of a pick-me-up on a bad week, but he did love my beans and cornbread."

Dubbed "Beamer's Best Blocker' in a 2005 newspaper article, Clark knows Virginia Tech's winningest football coach like few others do.

"I've often told people when they say, 'Is he funny?' and I'd say he's hilarious and people sometimes don't see that side of him," she said. "But he would say, 'Diana, how do you spell communication?' and I would spell it and he'd say, 'That's exactly right.' It was like he was giving me a spelling bee, so he made it fun. He made the day-to-day routine fun."

For Clark, the man she worked alongside wasn't an eight-time conference champion or a five-time Coach of the Year. He was a friend, who she said had the same respect for others as they had for him.

"My son said one time, 'Mom, do you realize the stature that Coach Beamer has?' and I said, 'I really don't.' I just didn't think about that because he never made himself feel that way," Clark said. "He never put himself on a pedestal. It was always everybody else first. I'm just proud to have been associated with him."