Last week, Brownstown Central boys basketball coach Dave Benter hit a milestone of 300 wins.
Following the 78-39 against Mid-Southern Conference foe Scottsburg, there was no announcement, plaque or trophy to commemorate the occasion.
It was business as usual for the Brownstown native — and that’s exactly what he wanted.
“(300 wins) means I’ve been fortunate to be around a community for a long time with some really good players and coaching staffs,” Benter said. “It took a few years to really get things started. I never thought that I would get to this point in the number of wins.
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“From a personal standpoint, it’s not a huge deal. Friday, before the game, I just felt like it was another game. When you kind of reflect on it — all the kids you’ve been around — you feel fortunate.”
Of all the active coaches in the state, of any class, Benter has the fifth-highest winning percentage at 73 percent.
Heading the Braves, Benter has a career record of 300-111.
He’s one of 43 current coaches to have eclipsed 300 victories and is on track to have more than 600 wins by the time he reaches 60 years old.
However, things didn’t start smoothly for the head of the Braves’ program.
In his first season, fresh out of playing at Hanover College, Benter’s Braves went 4-17.
“I think that when I first started, I was still a basketball player that was sitting as a coach on the bench,” Benter said. “I still loved to play and played all the time. Now, I think I probably think I enjoy coaching more than playing, and I think that’s something I never thought would happen.”
The next season saw improvement as Brownstown went 8-14, and he followed up in the 2000-01 season by going 10-11.
It was in 2001 that Benter recorded his first winning season, at 15-10.
“It took us a couple years to kind of change the culture and get guys in here that were winners. That’s the biggest thing sometimes — getting guys to know how to win,” Benter said. “Once you learn how to win, it gets much easier and guys start understanding the sacrifices you have to make. People can say all they want about today’s kids, but they spend a lot more time nowadays making themselves better athletes.
“People don’t understand what’s expected of high school athletes and how much time they spend year-round.”
Since 2001, Benter has finished with 14 straight winning seasons along with two trips to the state finals (2004 and 2009), five sectional championships and eight MSC titles.
Benter isn’t one to take all the credit for the wins. He often points to his coaching staff for the successes for the varsity squad.
“I’ve got a great coaching staff from the bottom to the top,” Benter said. “Sports are a big deal in Brownstown, and I think that’s a good thing. Parents and kids are very involved in youth sports. We’ve been very fortunate. Continuity is huge. Sometimes, schools are so impatient with coaching staffs.
“In society right now, some people want instant gratification. I was very fortunate that the school was patient and gave us time to work with our younger kids.”
Following the 2010 season, Benter was the Indiana Junior All-Star coach, and in 2014, he headed the Indiana All-Stars.
For Benter, there isn’t one team or player that sits at the forefront of his mind during his tenure at BCHS.
“The two teams that went to the state championships were special and the first sectional championship. But really, there isn’t one specific team,” he said. “Winning never gets old because you see it in the eyes of the kids you have out there. Every group is different, and I don’t think there’s one team I can pinpoint. For example, in my second year, we won eight games. But night in and night out, we competed and lost a lot of close games. We upset Austin in the sectional.”
Coming out of college, Benter was reluctant to take a job at his alma mater.
“It was always in the back of my mind (to coach at Brownstown). But when I first got offered the job, I called my college coach and asked what he thought. At first, he thought I was crazy going back and coaching at my hometown,” Benter said.
“He then told me that the first job is usually at a smaller type school. It’s one of those situations where you have to take your personal relationships out of the mix and do what you think is right. That’s tough, especially in your home town at times. Not everyone is going to agree with what you do, but you need to do what you think is best for the school, program and kids. It hasn’t always been the most popular decisions, but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences that I’ve had these years.”
As the wins amassed over the years, Benter could have left BCHS to coach at a larger school or even college.
But for Benter, there’s no place he’d rather be than Brownstown.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” Benter said. “We’re fortunate that all four grandparents live close and can be with our kids. Jackson County is a small-town, family-oriented community. There’s a lot of school spirit. Sometimes you scout bigger schools, and there aren’t a ton spectators there. You come here, and Friday nights still mean something, and that’s important.”
Benter also credits his family for letting him continue to coach.
“When I first started, I never set a timeline, not thinking 18 years ahead,” Benter said. “You have to have a really supportive family. I’ve got young kids now, and I miss several of their games a year. I’m very fortunate to have a supportive family.”
“You come (to Brownstown) and Friday nights still mean something, and that’s important.”
“Not everyone is going to agree with what you do, but you need to do what you think is best for the school, program and kids. It hasn’t always been the most popular decisions, but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences that I’ve had these years.”
– Braves coach Dave Benter