A life remembered: Dylan Benningfield

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


GIBSON CITY — Coaches, players and friends remembered Dylan Benningfield as a young man who put effort into everything he did — and kept at it, no matter the results.

The 17-year-old Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School junior died Saturday morning in an automobile accident north of Gibson City. His 15-year-old brother, Logan, was a front-seat passenger. The two brothers were on their way to a morning baseball practice in Gibson City.

For GCMS High School students and staff, Monday morning was a day of remembrance and mourning. Dylan Benningfield was actively involved in school activities and was a three-sport athlete, a rarity among high school athletes today.

“There are not many kids who would stick with one sport, let alone three sports, for as long as Dylan has without having a ton of success, but maybe it’s because he didn’t define success the same way others do,” said GCMS/Fisher co-op wrestling coach Josh Carter. “Success to him was being a part of a team with his friends and going through the ups and downs of sports together.”

A member of the school’s football, wrestling and baseball programs, Benningfield was part of the school’s first team state championship this past November when the football squad capped its unbeaten record with a state title win over Maroa-Forsyth. A photo on Facebook showed Dylan and his father, Mitch, celebrating the win.

GCMS football coach Mike Allen remembered Benningfield as someone who worked hard to improve himself as well as the team.

“Dylan came to practice every day and worked extremely hard,” Allen said. “ He wanted to not only make himself a better player, but the team as a whole.”
Fellow classmates remembered that Benningfield was always able to visit with people, no matter the circumstances.

“He was a great friend to have,” said GCMS junior Ashley Spears, a close friend. “He was always there for anyone who needed someone to talk to. He was friends with anyone who needed one.”

“Dylan was always willing to help anyone out, and if something ever needed to be done you could count on him helping out,” Allen added. “He took pride in being a three-sport athlete and for being on those teams.”

Benningfield was a member of the school’s wrestling programs in middle school as well as all three of his high school years. And while he might not have been the most talented, as Carter acknowledged, “he was committed and loved being part of the team.”

The coach recalled Benningfield as one who enjoyed his time and passion with the rest of his fellow athletes, something that he said might not happen to others in the same situation.

“For some athletes, if they can’t be the star or have a lot of success they don’t want to put in the work,” Carter said.

“He shrugged off criticism and still gave it his all,” GCMS sophomore Ethan Kasper wrote in an Instagram post. “He never was selfish. He always worried about the good of the team for wrestling.”

In particular, both Kasper and Spears said Benningfield would listen intently and cared about others.

“He was a good listener,” Spears said. “One of those people who has a huge heart full of love and care for everyone who would accept him.”

“He always asked me how my day was every day after school in the locker room while we got in our practice gear for our sports,” Kasper said.

While he might have been average on the mat or on the field, Benningfield excelled at dodgeball, something his coaches and players said was one of the things that they would remember him the most for.

“While Dylan may not have been one of the elite wrestlers on the team, somehow — and it baffles his teammates and coaches to this day — he was an amazing dodgeball player,” Carter said. “We would play dodgeball periodically in practice, and Dylan developed a reputation very quickly that he was ‘the man’ on the dodgeball court. He could catch anything thrown at him.”

“When his teammates would acknowledge his dodgeball skills, he would just eat it up, because it was one thing on our team that he was the best at. Two years ago at our end of the season awards night I gave him a Butterfinger candy bar and told him that I hoped it would give him butter fingers to make it more fair for the rest of his teammates when we played dodgeball. I’m pretty sure he would have played dodgeball every day at practice if I would let him.”

GCMS baseball coach Dustin White remembers Dylan as “a great kid and a hard worker.”

“He was always willing to step up and fill in whenever we needed him,” White said. “This year we needed a catcher, and he instantly raised his hand and said, ‘I’ll do it!’ He loved being around the game and coming to practice. He was always smiling and excited for his teammates to have success.

“Dylan has been with the baseball program in Gibson City for a long time,” White added. “He was member of our summer league organization at a young age and continued his love of baseball year after year.”

Dylan Benningfield was close to his brother, Logan, and the two played many of the same sports together. Spears shared a particular memory of the two siblings from last week.

“I can still see Dylan and Logan playing basketball together during gym class last Tuesday,” Spears said. “(They were) just smiling and laughing without a care in the world.”

Kasper said that on Friday night, Dylan Benningfield gave the eighth-grade class a tour of the high school to help them become acquainted with the building.

To Spears, Benningfield was a friend to everyone.

“Good kid, beloved son and brother, great teammate, and a treasured friend,” Spears said.

Carter said Benningfield would be remembered throughout next year’s wrestling season, and that the team would remember the memories they shared with him.

“I’m thinking our first practice next season needs to be spent remembering Dylan and playing dodgeball together,” Carter said.

Spears said she wishes she had the opportunity to talk with Benningfield one more time.

“If I knew something like this was going to happen, I would have given him one last hug while I still had the chance,” Spears said.

Funeral arrangements for Dylan Benningfield are pending. His brother is currently hospitalized with a collapsed lung as well as a broken femur and thumb. Logan underwent surgery to repair the broken bones and is in stable condition.

The GCMS school district is collecting donations for the family to help offset the funeral and medical expenses. Donations may be dropped off at either GCMS High School or Main Attractions Salon in Gibson City, or by contacting Scott Harden or Jamie Trantina.

Categories (4):News, Misc., Living, Sports

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