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American Tough: First-year Alma coach, teacher bring lessons, lots of grit to Airedale nation 9/7/22

American Tough 

First-year Alma coach, teacher bring lessons, lots of grit to Airedale nation

 

By Kevin Taylor 

Alma Schools 

 

Amy Benson comes across like a sweet kindergarten teacher — big smile, easy personality, motherly instincts.

 

And that would suit her fine if she taught kindergarten.

 

The first-year Alma High School resource language teacher is at ease with older kids, too. Hence, her mom skills are always at work. “I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher,” she said. 

 

The daughter of a Baptist preacher, the former Amy Adair was always good at making friends. She was good at basketball, too. 

 

Adair started for LaPoynor High School’s basketball team as a freshman before the family moved 100 miles north to Mount Vernon, Texas, following her sophomore year. (LaPoynor won the 2A girls state basketball championship the following year). 

 

“I grew up in Texas and we moved six or seven times,” she said. “I'm really good at being the new girl; I'm not scared to talk to people and learn the ways of the new place, and that ended up paying off later in life.

 

"Little did I know I would need those skills."

 

Not long after she graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 2002, Benson found herself face-to-face with an Alpha football player named Kirk Benson. There was food, there was fellowship, and there was Amy.

 

“There was a BCM (Baptist Community Ministries) guy (Neal Nelson) I connected with,” Kirk Benson explained. “We did some campouts and turkey hunting and duck hunting. In the spring of my junior year (2003), he was a Bible Study leader. They (Henderson State) had a volunteer receivers coach (Vernon Hutchins), even though (assistant) coach Kenny Wheaten ran the triple-option and only threw the ball about three times a game. He (Hutchins) came up to me on a Wednesday and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you at the house. My wife cooks home-cooked meals. He said there are 14 OBU girls at that Bible Study.

 

“I said, can I come to the first two?”

 

Benson showed up for the food and soon had another focus on a girl named Amy Adair. 

 

“She was the only one that would come into the kitchen and talk to me,” Kirk Benson said. “She wasn’t nervous around me. That was kind of the start. I got saved about six months later. 

 

“I knew I had met Jesus and my wife at the same time.”

 

“There was this tiny, creaky stool, and that was the only place for him to sit, and he kept coming back (to the Bible study),” Amy Benson said. “I found out later that the coach had told him there was food in the Ouachita (Baptist) girls' house, and that's why he kept coming back."

 

The Journey

 

Kirk and Amy dated for two years before marrying in June 2006. At this point, the couple had no idea where their life would take them. 

 

"He took me to the Delta; that's where we both started out," Amy said. "We started a family there; we had two babies (Izabel and Boaz) born in Memphis. Little did we know, God said, 'You need to move to the Nations (Europe).'”

 

Kirk and Amy embarked on a worldwide mission journey that took them to Serbia, Hungary (where she lived for a short time to have the couple’s third child, Titus), Yugoslavia, Vancouver, Canada, and the beautiful city of Düsseldorf, Germany, where Kirk played professional football in the German Football League, then back to Arkansas. 

 

Prior to June, when the family moved to Alma, the Bensons had spent the past four years in Nashville, where her family (parents Bryan and Tomye Adair) still reside. 

 

“First we went to Eastern Europe (the former Yugoslavia) on a mission,” Amy said. "After a little stint in Vancouver, Canada, we went to Germany.”

 

The couple’s youngest child, a happy third-grader named Eliza, was born in Germany. 

 

"You have your life plans, but that's not always true. I personally learned to trust the Lord to do what is next, because I could never have imagined my first step was to become a teacher, and then the next step was to leave, sell everything we own, and tell people in another country about Jesus," Amy said. "But in the end, that brings huge peace."

 

There are some pitfalls.

 

"Your life can be chaotic, and you don't know the language; you don't know how to take your kids to the doctor," she explained. "That's how we landed in Serbia. Boaz had a seizure at 30,000 feet, at mid-flight. At 15 months old, he was a perfectly healthy baby, and then we landed the plane, got through customs, and went straight to the hospital.

 

"Knowing you did what you were supposed to do, that just brought us all peace."

 

The GFL

 

Founded in 1979, the German Football League is broken down into two divisions — north and south — and features 16 teams, from the Munich Cowboys to the Ravensburg Razorbacks. 

 

Benson played for the Dresden Monarchs.

 

“Düsseldorf, Germany is about an hour south of Berlin, and two hours north of Prague,” Amy Benson said. “There are beautiful castles and palaces throughout the region. It’s a big, modern city. We loved that part of our life. The Germans, they join a club and they're in it until they die. We found something we had in common and rolled with it.”

 

In October of 2018, the Bensons returned to Arkansas. 

 

“Regardless of what we were doing, each move had different job titles and family dynamics, at different stages of life, but for the past 22 years-plus, the thread through the storyline, from every country to every state, I was always involved with coaching,” Kirk Benson said. “In Serbia, it was basketball and soccer, and right after high school and into college, it was teaching in the weight room, coaching junior high basketball, and then all the way to playing football in the German Football League.

 

“Every piece of it, it’s either been playing or coaching — that’s been the thread.”

 

The son of a car dealership consultant and math and cheer coach, Benson grew up in Marion with a giant heart and a voracious appetite for learning. 

 

“When I was a kid, my dad would take us to some different cities he did consulting for, so we did some traveling,” Kirk said. “And then with Amy moving as a kid, it was kind of a build-up for what we would do as adults.”

 

“We landed in Nashville and we loved it there,” Amy said. 

 

Green Acres

 

The Bensons have a calendar on which they abide as if it was a well-worn Bible. “We’re always somewhere,” Amy Benson said. “There are 66 games this fall between the kids and dad.”

 

Late last winter, the Bensons began to get a little restless.

 

"When we felt the nudge to move again, we were searching and Jason Lawrence was Kirk's high school football coach and had helped him get to Henderson State to play football there,” Amy Benson said. “He said, 'Y'all should check out Alma.' 

 

"We didn't even know where that was. Lawrence said, 'I know (Alma coach) Rusty Bush really well.'"

 

Lawrence had kept in touch with the Bensons, going as far as to watch his GFL games via a live stream every Saturday. "He's one of those teachers that just stayed part of your life,” she said.

 

Kirk went to Alma for spring ball while Amy and the kids stayed and finished out in Nashville.

 

"He's the crazy and I'm the calm," she said. "(But) we balance each other. He can tamp it down when he needs to."