NDA Students & Community Donate $2100 to Coach Bennett’s Charity of Choice

Madison Polack, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Story Update:  The New Rome Church Fund for the Needy and Homeless, Nekoosa, WI, received $2100 from NDA students and guests who heard Coach Bennett’s pep rally talk on Oct. 8. The New Rome Church was Coach Bennett’s charity of choice. The event highlighted Student Government’s Fall Festival Week of activities.

On Thursday, October 8, NDA welcomed Dick Bennett and his wife, Anne, as a special guest speaker during the week of Fall Fest.

Coach Dick Bennett, a devout Catholic and a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, has a coaching career that spans 30 years at both the high school and college level.

The pinnacle of his career was in the late 1900s when he played a pivotal role in rebuilding the Wisconsin Badgers’ men’s basketball team. During his five-year tenure at UW-Madison, the Badgers frequently advanced in the NCAA tournaments and made their first Final Four appearance in 2000.

Coach Bennett was born in Pennsylvania. When he was twelve years old, he moved to Wisconsin with his parents and his two younger brothers. Coach Bennett played football, baseball, and basketball at Clintonville High School; he played the same sports at Ripon College.

He graduated from Ripon College in 1965. He taught English at West Bend High School, New London High School, and then at Eau Claire Memorial High School, where he took the Old Abes to the WIAA title game in 1976.

Next Coach Bennett moved on to UW-Stevens Point where he coached from 1976 to 1985 and led the team to a national runner-up finish in the NAIA Tournament. He earned his master’s degree from Winona State University while at Stevens Point.

From 1985 to 1995, he led UW-Green Bay to two NCAA tournament appearances. In 1995, he moved on to coach the Badgers and then finished his coaching career at Washington State, where he coached for another three years. Today, he continues to teach and coach in many ways as he assists his son Tony, who is the head basketball coach at the University of Virginia. Now, Coach Bennett and his wife live near Wisconsin Rapids.

NDA’s President Kevin Shaw said he asked Coach Bennett to speak “because of his personal beliefs and the principles of Christ’s teachings that he has always used as part of his coaching strategy.”

The veteran coach’s message centered on five foundational principles, all based on Scripture. These principles were humility, passion, unity, servanthood and gratitude.

Humility: “Do not think too highly or too lowly of yourselves, but instead look at yourself with clarity.”

Passion: “Do not be lukewarm. Everyone is passionate when they are winning, but the successful are passionate when it is hard.”

Unity: ”Integrate individual talents for the sake of the team. Unity in a losing effort can be molded into a winning team.”

Servanthood: “Regardless of your role, be a servant to the team and make your teammates better.”

Gratitude: “Be thankful for not only success, but also for what you have learned through adversity because that is where great wisdom can be gained.”

Shaw said, “Coach Bennett believes that these principles are the essence of a good team, coach, or individual in any capacity in life. His message resonates with all of us at NDA.”