When Bryan "Beanie" Bateman, a beloved Hinsdale South swim coach and Hinsdale Central graduate, died in a car crash three years ago, hundreds of people felt the loss. The 32-year-old Hornet Swim Club coach had epilepsy. He was driving home from a practice when he suffered a seizure, lost control of the car and struck a tree.
Burr Ridge resident Tom O'Toole, along with friends, former teammates, swim club students and their parents raised $2,000 to commission a plaque in his honor.
"He had a way of relating to every swimmer on an individual basis," said O'Toole. "He had a coach's connection and a friend connection with swimmers. That's what made him so special."
O'Toole's son, Ryan, swims for Hinsdale South and was coached by Bateman as an age-group swimmer.
"Bryan Bateman Junior “Beanie” was one of the most influential mentors in my young life and has changed who I am to this day for the better. I can attribute most of the success in my swimming career to Beanie," said Ryan O'Toole. "Most importantly, Bateman was not only a coach and a dear friend, but also a hero to me and hundreds of other swimmers. He has left an incredible legacy at the Hornet Swim Club as well as the Illinois Swimming community."
The bronze plaque was mounted in the hallway adjacent to the pool at Hinsdale South last week.
Bateman was a nationally ranked, All-American swimmer who graduated from Hinsdale Central in 1996.
*Patch will talk to more former students of Bryan "Beanie" Bateman later and will include their comments as an update to this story. If you knew Bryan "Beanie" Bateman and would like to add your comments as well, please contact Sabrina Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org.