Oswego East Student Athlete of the Week: Sam Behnke
Sep 02, 2016 08:09AM ● Published by Zac Sadek
Gallery: Sam Behnke (pictured left) [0 Images] Click any image to expand.
Oswego East Junior Sam Behnke is the last of his three brothers to come through Oswego East and was fortunate enough to watch and play with older brothers Max (2016) and Zach (2014). The family competition has helped turn Sam into one of the leaders of the boy’s golf team, which has earned him this week’s distinction as Oswego East student athlete of the week.
Sam’s journey as a golfer began in the 6th grade, where he and his brothers would make weekly trips to the golf course and compete against each other, whether it was 18 holes or hitting balls in the range. Sam’s father, Scott Behnke, recalls these matches being very spirited.
“While they are close, they are also very competitive,” says Scott. He goes on to add, “The daily discussions of who had the lowest round, the debate over what was the best shot of the day, or providing of golf tips (sometimes unsolicited) are commonplace when they return home.”
Sam’s mother, Kaytie Behnke, echoes those sentiments by saying, “They spend a lot of time together out on the course, each one trying to beat the other, but encouraging each other as they go along.”
Head Coach Jim Vera, has been fortunate to coach all three of the Behnke brothers, and believes Sam is at an advantage from being the last.
“He [Sam] is probably the most calm of the three,” says Vera. He goes on to add, “He [Sam] has the best traits of each of his brother, and I think in the long run, it has helped him be successful.”
Junior teammate, Brian Dorn, views Sam as a leader for not only his play, but also his ability to lead by example.
“[Sam] is dedicated to the team, and always works harder than everybody else,” says Brian. He goes on to say, “When someone gets down, Sam always finds a way to bring him up. He doesn’t allow teammates to bring each other down.”
Mr. Vera has observed those same traits in Sam, saying, “He is respected by his teammates for how he plays, he is respected by his coaches for how he carries himself, and for being a great teammate.
Mr. and Mrs. Behnke have witnessed a tremendous growth in Sam since his freshman year, where he was a starter on the JV team.
“[Sam] has grown in confidence and his ability to communicate with others,” says Scott.
Kaytie has seen growth not only in Sam’s golf game, but also his maturity as a person and a student.
“He [Sam] enjoys being at East with all of his teachers, coaches, and friends, and is always motivated to give his best effort,” says Kaytie. She goes on to add, “He [Sam] has developed time management skills and a great work ethic.”
Sam’s growth on the course has transitioned well into the classroom. He currently carries a 3.57 G.P.A., and has taken multiple advanced placement (AP) course, including U.S. History, Environmental Science, Government, and Human Geography. These, as well as other challenging courses, will surely prepare Sam for his future and a bevy of college choices. He is currently leaning towards attending Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin; where by both of his brothers currently attend and play on the golf team.
The characteristics that make Sam successful on the golf course are also the same that have seen him find personal success in the classroom. Dan Dunbar, Sam’s Military Topics teacher, has, in a short time, already seen what makes Sam so successful.
“Sam is a hard-working and self-motivated student,” says Mr. Dunbar. He goes on to add, “He is a consistently quiet leader by example in class, but is not shy when it comes to speaking his mind.”
Before Sam goes off to college in two years, he is determined to achieve his personal and team goals. Sam, and his teammates, is shooting for a top 4 finish in the conference, and placing high enough in regionals to make it to sectionals. As far as his personal goals, Sam would like to make the all-conference team, and place high enough in sectionals to qualify for the state tournament.
This season, Sam has averaged a score of 41 (9 holes), an improvement of 3 strokes over last season. He has shot a 41 vs. West Aurora, a 40 vs. Romeoville, and an 81 (18 holes) at the Plainfield North invite. The team is hoping through their steady improvement, they can hit their stride next month during conference and state tournament play.
“Enjoy it while it lasts, it goes by quick,” says Sam. Hopefully Sam’s leadership and the improvement and hard work of his teammates will allow the Wolves to continue to improve and achieve their season’s goals.