When Frank Urso, a Terrapins men's lacrosse midfielder from 1973 to 1976, was raising his kids, he'd often tell them the same mantra his coach, Clayton A. "Bud" Beardmore, used with the Terps: "Be the best."

The same went for Jake Reed, a Terps goalkeeper from 1974 to 1977, in his high school teaching and coaching careers. It was a life path he said Beardmore inspired.

And when the Terps alumni send one another emails, the messages always end with the same three words.

The motto originated from Beardmore, who coached the Terps to national championship victories in 1973 and 1975 — the only two national titles in program history. Beardmore died Jan. 20 at age 76 from complications from Parkinson's disease, but his former players said his philosophy will continue to have an impact on their lives as well as those of future generations of Terps.

"His motto of 'Be the best' still stands there at Maryland, and it's something that I think that everybody tried to do while they played there," Urso said. "It helps you grow as a player, but it also helps you grow as a person."

Bud Beardmore led the Terps to two NCAA titles. (Photo courtesy of University of Maryland Archives)
Bud Beardmore led the Terps to two NCAA titles. (Photo courtesy of University of Maryland Archives)

In coaching the Terps from 1970 to 1980, Beardmore compiled a 91-26 record over 11 seasons, including eight ACC Championships and nine straight final four appearances from 1971 to 1979.

As a player, Beardmore was a three-time All-America midfielder for the Terps from 196 to 1962. He set the school's career points record for a midfielder (108), only to see that record broken when he coached Urso.

"He was the first one to congratulate me," Urso said. "I remember him saying that he expected it and congratulations."

But Reed said Beardmore wasn't "what you would call a players' coach, where he puts his arm around you and he hugged you."

The coach would run the Terps ragged during practice, often incorporating drills he learned from the Terps track coach.

Beardmore was also innovative in the way he coached, giving his players freedom to modify their style.

Urso, who was named a recipient of the Tewaaraton Legends Award last week as one of four players in NCAA history to be a four-time first-team All-American, said Beardmore would let him talk in the huddle if the midfielder wanted to make an in-game adjustment.

Beardmore's love for organization extended off the field, too.

His players dubbed him the "Silva Thin man" — a nod to the Silva Thin cigarettes advertisements — because Beardmore was "always perfectly dressed and he always wore his sunglasses and he always stood there and just looked out over the field like he was the king of the land," Reed said.

Beardmore demanded the same appearance from his players. They had to keep the locker room spotless and polish their white Puma cleats the day before games, using a Q-tip on the red stripe.

"Be the best on the field, be the best in the classroom, be the best off the field," Reed said. "That was just something that we tried to live up to for him."

But there were times, Reed said, when Beardmore "was great at looking the other way."

At the 1975 national championship, a 20-13 thrashing of Navy, some Midshipmen in the stands were heckling Reed during warm-ups, so Urso started to shoot past the cage to clear them out.

And in their practice trips to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, each spring, Beardmore toughed out 24 hours on a bus full of college student-athletes.

"It was the '70s, so it was a pretty wild time," Reed said. "Somehow, Coach Beardmore never came back to the back of the bus. He never had to use the bathroom for 24 hours. He just sat in the front seat and looked straight out of the window."

Beardmore retired from this program in 1980, the same year he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Since then, four Terps coaches have looked to hoist the championship trophy but have fallen short in six combined title-game appearances.

And while usage of "Be the best" dwindled in the years after Beardmore's departure, current coach John Tillman has revived the phrase.

The words are posted throughout the team's locker room, mounted on the back wall of the film room and written on the metal bar of every player's facemask just underneath his eyes. It's a constant reminder of the former coach's philosophy as this year's Terps try to add a third trophy to the collection Beardmore started.

"Coach Beardmore was a legend in the game of lacrosse and will go down as one of the all-time great coaches," Tillman said in a statement after Beardmore's passing. "He was truly 'the best.'"