A Trojan tragedy: Benson remembered for his loyalty
WORTHINGTON -- Kyle Hain, 20, was at WE Fest -- a country music festival -- in Detroit Lakes when he noticed nine missed calls on his cell phone. His roommate answered the 10th missed call by Hain and calmly told Hain that he needed to call his s...
WORTHINGTON -- Kyle Hain, 20, was at WE Fest -- a country music festival -- in Detroit Lakes when he noticed nine missed calls on his cell phone. His roommate answered the 10th missed call by Hain and calmly told Hain that he needed to call his sister.
Hain asked why. His roommate simply repeated the request.
Upon calling his sister, Hain learned one of his best friends -- someone he had known since he was 4 years old, and the defenseman who would fly down the ice to get to someone before they had an opportunity to shoot on him when he was in the net -- was dead.
Hain jumped in a truck and made the five-hour trip back.
"It seemed like the longest car ride back I've ever had anywhere," Hain said. "I've known him my entire life, and the past two years we worked the same job and then we would work out together.
"We joked about pulling seven to sevens. I never really realized how much time we spent together until I realized I'll never see him again."
Life, like a scoreboard, is ruthless.
There are age limits on driving a car, drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling, but life has no age restrictions.
Anything can happen to anyone at any age. Life should not end at the age of 20.
Life should not have ended for 2010 Worthington High School graduate and former Trojan hockey, football and tennis player Mitch Benson, 20, early Friday morning in a car accident.
But it did.
"I'm trying to find words here," former WHS hockey coach Gary Brandt said. "My stomach is still swirling. I was coaching (at WHS) three years, and he was there for all of those three.
"He had the innate talent and skill and pushed himself. With the right opportunity, he could have moved up and played at the next level."
The funny thing about sports is they show little pieces of the character of each athlete. Benson was on the WHS varsity tennis team for four years, playing No. 1 doubles, as well as on the WHS varsity hockey team for four years as a defenseman and the WHS varsity football team for three years as an offensive guard and defensive end.
"The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Mitch is when he first came out (for football)," former WHS football coach Dennis Hale said. "I asked him 'What position are you looking at' and he said, 'I'll play anywhere you want me to play, coach.'
"He was willing to play anywhere and do anything."
Benson's willingness to do anything didn't stop at the football field.
"He was one of the most passionate and talented athletes out there," Hain said. "As a defenseman, he saved my butt so many times in goal.
"He would do anything to stop a player from getting to me."
Hain also played tennis with Benson, who showed the same aggressive mentality he brought to everything else.
"He was No. 1," Hain said. "He was always the best at what he did, but he never wanted the glory.
"The team always came first."
Along with Hain, Mitch Jensen graduated with Benson in 2010. Jensen played football and hockey with him and woke up Friday to his parents telling him he had lost one of his best friends.
"I thought I was still dreaming," Jensen said. "I've pretty much known him since Day 1. I started playing hockey with him in second grade.
"He was a good leader and a good athlete. He would have done anything for anyone. My prayers and thoughts go out to the Benson family. I feel just horrible."
The pieces of a character found on a football field, hockey arena or tennis court do not make the man. What makes the man are the actions off the court. As his friends, coaches and teammates had said before, Benson was truly willing to give up everything, as he was set to become a United States Marine in the fall.
"He wanted to move on and do something with his life," Jensen said. "I think that shows us that he was willing to give up what he had for everybody else. He's willing to fight for everybody."
Hain spent the five-hour ride back home thinking about his best friend.
"I couldn't think of a better fit for his character than a Marine," Hain said. "He could hardly know you and he had your back.
"It makes it hard to lose him."
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy may be reached at 376-7328.