The day Douglas and Mimmi Beck’s second son arrived in the world, the search was on for a suitable name.
And one came to them – Wolfgang Beck.
For a family rich in German heritage, it is easy to see who Beck was named after – 18th century classical music composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who started as a child prodigy.
“They could tell it was a fit for me,” Wolfgang Beck said.
The name could not be more perfect – in its reputation and literal translation.
Beck is an accomplished, award-winning composer in a musically inclined family. He started at age 6 – and has finished more than 200 compositions ranging from classical to jazz to funk.
But also take the translation of his name – “running wolf” – to know what was certainly in his destiny.
Wolfgang Beck is a junior for the Gig Harbor High Tides, and their top distance runner. As the reigning West Central District champion, he will try to run down his first Class 4A state cross-country title Saturday in Pasco. The Gig Harbor boys are on the short list of contenders for the team title as well.
Nervous? Overwhelmed? That isn’t how Beck is wired. Pre-race expectations – and nerves – only affect you if you allow them, the teenager said.
“It is easy from the outside to see the crazy Wolf and all the unexpected things that come with him. Nobody knows for sure what he will do or say next,” said Mark Wieczorek, the second-year coach of Gig Harbor boys cross country. “What people do not see is how good of a team leader he is, and that is impressive. He builds the confidence for the other guys from workouts, and organizing runs.
“Being a team leader is not running fast. It is building up the team.”
Beck is a bonding agent – socially and competitively. Teammates not only accept his quirky nature, they embrace it.
“They gave up on me being a normal person a while ago,” Beck said.
His family has invested plenty in music. His father plays trumpet. His mom is a flautist. Older brother Dirk plays the trumpet, trombone and piano. Sister Tova is a saxophonist. And youngest sister Emma is just starting with the flute and drums.
“A lot of times when we have relatives over, we whip the instruments out and play music together,” Beck said.
And the family has a unique vacationing policy: They bring along their musical instruments and perform for strangers.
Wolfgang Beck is especially gifted. He talked about sitting in a room with Dirk and writing music at a very young age.
Besides playing trombone in the jazz band at Tacoma Community College, Beck is a co-director of “Arletta Sound,” a community orchestra mostly made up of students. It performs only original compositions.
As an eighth grader in the spring of 2010, Beck received the thrill of a lifetime. After he won a contest through the David Diamond Young composers workshop, his music was performed by the Seattle Symphony.
“It sounded amazing – the exact sound I had in my head,” Beck said.
In the past two years, Beck and a few friends have entered short-film contests at the Gig Harbor Film Festival. The most recent entry, “The Fluid of Memory,” was directed by Bill Herling. Beck composed all the music for the film in a day. It won second place.
“I saw the film through once,” Beck said. “By the time I finished watching it, I already knew what music belonged in it. I could translate the emotion of the subjects into music.”
Beck said he would like to write music for motion pictures someday, but added he wants to pursue a career in medical study and research.
“It’s all kind of crazy putting all this stuff together,” Wieczorek said. “He has a passion. When he puts his mind to something, he goes all the way – in running and in music.”
At last year’s 4A meet, Beck briefly took the lead late in the boys’ 5-kilometer race. He eventually settled for fifth place behind Wenatchee’s Jacob Smith, who won in 15 minutes, 3 seconds – more than 15 seconds faster than the Tides’ standout.
Smith has graduated, but 4A runner-up Andrew Gardner of Mead – last year’s favorite – returns.
“I like being the underdog viper waiting to strike,” Beck said. “Last year I had my minute of glory and fell hard. Thing is, I am a way stronger runner this year.
“To be an elite runner, you have to be different. There is no way around it. To be great, you have to go your own way. I embrace my difference.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles