When antagonism flares between the football team's glee and non-glee factions, Beiste forces the entire football team to work together with the glee club for one week; despite encountering resistance and set-backs, the plan is ultimately successful and the team wins the championship game.During the episode "Blame It on the Alcohol", Beiste takes Will out for a fun time at a rodeo bar, which includes the character's first lead vocal performance on the show in the duet "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer".In the sixth season, Beiste comes out as transgender (being diagnosed with gender dysphoria) and undergoes gender confirmation surgery, taking on the new name Sheldon Beiste.

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Coach Beiste is introduced as female championship-winning football coach Shannon Beiste, brought in to make the Mc Kinley High football team successful.

Coach Beiste immediately comes into conflict with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), though Beiste and Will eventually become good friends.

Beiste also takes on the task of running the school elections.

In the episode "The First Time", the coach begins dating Ohio State football recruiter Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter), who is scouting for talent at Mc Kinley, A few months later, in the episode "Choke", Beiste is hit by Cooter and given a black eye.

Later in the season, after Emma leaves Will at the altar on their wedding day and the two are briefly estranged, Beiste confesses to falling in love with him, but he tells the coach that he and Emma have recently gotten back together.

Will asks a hurt Beiste to come to glee club; Beiste does so reluctantly, but as the period begins, two gunshots are heard in the school, and Beiste assists in barricading the choir room, helping to keep everyone quiet, and aiding Will in subduing Sam when he wants to go out and search for Brittany, who was not in the room when the lockdown began.

In Beiste's first year, the coach successfully steers the team to its first championship.

When the character returns in the third season, in addition to coaching football, Beiste co-directs the school musical and runs the elections for senior class president.

Afterward, Beiste tells Will that he should reach out to forgive Finn, whose role as Will's assistant on the glee club was terminated when Finn admitted to kissing Emma while Will was in Washington, and he does so.