Dennis Benthin’s long journey

 By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

Dennis Benthin lives for soccer. He’s been playing competitive soc­cer since he was just five years old, always moving to better teams in his native Germany whenever the opportunity arose.

Around the age of 17, however, Benthin felt that he wanted to try something different. He’d always wanted to come to the United States for school, as he was fascinated by the idea of creating his own person­al American dream.

His destination was tiny Hills­boro, Wis., a small town of around 1,000 people that’s known for a large Czech population. Hillsboro High School was not large enough to support a soccer team. So Benthin became the kicker for the football team.

“Quite intimidating,” is how Ben­thin described his experience with American football. Despite his ini­tial trepidation, however, Benthin became an effective kicker for a very good Hillsboro team. Looking back, he remembers fondly: “I didn’t hurt myself, and we did well.”

“After that, I knew I wanted to spend more time in the U.S. for col­lege,” Benthin said. He seemed to have narrowed it down to UW-La Crosse and Winona State, but a glance at the Viterbo soccer field from Highway 16 piqued his inter­est. He rode back to campus and met with head coach Andy Lee. The two “clicked” and so began Ben­thin’s Viterbo athletic career .

Benthin, a senior sports man­agement major with a psychology minor, is clearly proud of the pro­gram he’s been a part of for the past four years. He says the program has “definitely” improved over the past four years and that players now have to work hard to play; that wasn’t always the case.

In four years of memories, one stands out above the rest for Benthin. Two seasons ago, Viterbo knocked off perennial powerhouse Grand View, and advanced to the precipice of a Midwest Collegiate Conference tournament championship. The ri­valry with Grand View is especially meaningful to Benthin. He finds it to be just a little more exciting than a typical conference game.

Benthin also credits coach Andy Lee for being “one of the guys” and keeping things light in the club­house. Lee is known for putting performance above the result, an ap­proach Benthin cites as “very mod­ern.”

Perhaps the biggest accolade Benthin has received at Viterbo is the Champion of Character Award, awarded to him in the spring of 2010. Benthin commented that it “means everything to me. I can’t be­lieve I got it. I’ve always wanted to be a role model on and off the field and this trophy wrapped it all up.”

Benthin isn’t entirely sure on his plans after school, but he is consid­ering law school. His brother Mar­cel is planning on attending Viterbo next fall to play soccer.

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