“A good coach can change a game, but a great coach can change a life.” - John Wooden
Two major “wins” for the Hartfield Hawks in the 2019-2020 season was the esteemed honor to have two coaches from our athletics staff chosen as Coach of the Year in their respective sports.
On the tails of successful seasons for both coaches, these distinctions are well deserved. Coach Benton led both the girls and boys Varsity soccer teams to win the State Championship in the fall and spring, and Coach Ingram brought the Varsity girls basketball team to win their own State Championship title this year.
What sets both Coach Benton and Coach Ingram apart from your average high school coach is their incredible faith in God and their ability to point their players back to Him. “Both coaches are incredibly passionate,” shared High School Principal and Interim Athletic Director Jim DeLaughter. DeLaughter continues, ”No one works harder than Benton, and he is truly a ‘players coach.' He is ‘soccer tough’ - his passion is unrivaled and it shows in the relationships he builds with his athletes. Coach Ingram has a love for basketball and for student athletes that is infectious, and he has done a great job of creating excitement and inspiring buy-in from players in his first year as coach. I expect great things ahead for both of these outstanding coaches."
Both Coach Benton and Coach Ingram would consider making disciples to be their first and most essential focus, and that is evidenced by the impact they’ve made upon the lives and testimonies of their players. Both coaches have made a lasting impression upon the lives of many, but recent Hartfield graduate Macie Rogers particularly had much to say of the influence these men have had upon her life.
When asked about Jake Benton, Macie had this to say:
"Coach Benton was easily one of the best coaches I had in any sport. When I started playing for him in the eighth grade, he immediately became one of my favorite coaches. From the very beginning he pushed me and everyone else to our breaking point, and then some. As a coach, he always wanted us to be the best in every aspect of the game, and he held himself to the same standards as a coach. He is so hard-working, especially when it comes to his soccer teams. He puts so much time and effort into the game and us as players. Not only did he teach me so much about the game, he taught me countless life lessons. Coach Benton truly cared about his players and I know personally he always checked on me, and he always held me accountable. This past year winning the state championship with him was special because it was something we had been so close to achieving so many times but kept falling short. We had worked so hard and so long for that moment, and none of it would have been possible without Coach Benton. He won that game just as much as the players on the field. I cannotthink of another coach that would deserve this honor more than he does. I know how hard he worked for us and I am beyond happy that his hard work was noticed by so many others."
Macie also had the opportunity to grow as an athlete and follower of Christ under the leadership of Benton Ingram.
"From the time I met [Coach Ingram], I think most, if not all, of our conversations he found a way to direct it back to Christ and show how important his faith was to him. He is also one of the most genuine people I know. Everyone he talks to, he shows a genuine interest in their life, not just the little things but also the important things. He likes to joke around, which always kept practices fun and light, but he also knew how to maintain discipline. He always saw the potential in people around him and would not let them settle for any less than their best, and I think this is one way he set himself apart as a coach and person."
"I will never forget when we were playing Simpson, and as the clock was winding down, he never lost faith in our team. He kept his cool, and put us in positions to make a comeback. With only a few seconds left on the clock, down by 2, we got the ball back with just enough time for one more play. Coach Ingram looked at me and said, “ You know the play, knock down the shot.” In that moment, I knew how much confidence he had in me, not only in my ability to make a shot but to make decisions and be a leader. He was always instilling confidence in me to be a better leader, and I will always remember those moments."
Congratulations to Coach Jake Benton and Coach Benton Ingram!
Hartfield Academy is fully accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the MidSouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Southern Association of independent Schools (SAIS).