Glacier coach wins national spirit award

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Grady Bennett and his wife Amy

Glacier High School football coach Grady Bennett has been named the Most Spirited Coach by Varsity Brands.

The announcement was made Saturday during the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. Glacier High School will receive $3,000 as part of the award.

The award recognizes a successful coach who makes the connection between athletic involvement, academic achievement and good character while prioritizing sportsmanship according to Varsity Brands. Glacier Assistant Principal and Activities Director Mark Dennehy nominated Bennett for the award. Bennett was among 12 finalists from around the country up for the award.

Bennett’s winning traits are described by Varsity Brands:

“Grady Bennett took a football team that was defeated in their season, and implemented an outstanding regimen of preparation, academic achievement and character development education to completely turn the program around. Coach Bennett’s greatest gift, however, was to provide his team with a purposeful character education program called Pack Strength. Teaching the proper way to treat women and the use of social media are a small sampling of specific lessons that his players receive. His philosophy towards the game has helped countless young boys grow into productive young men.”

This will is Bennett’s 15th year as head football coach. On the field, Bennett guided Glacier to its first Class AA football championship in 2014, finishing with a 13-0 record. The Wolfpack were state runners-up in 2013 and 2016. In the classroom, he teaches business classes.

Character training is a regular part of practice at Glacier. Bennett believes that character must be intentionally taught to be cultivated.

“It’s pretty common to hear that sports teaches character, but in reality I think sports reveals character,” Bennett said. “I believe in a lot of programs we assume these good, positive lessons are going to be inherently learned and I’m not sure it happens all the time. You have to be intentional.”

Pack Strength is part of that intentional training. About 15 minutes of each practice is set aside to talk about different character traits.

“It’s hard when there’s only so much time in the day to give up 15 minutes,” Bennett said.

While coaches and players could devote every minute to drills — they see the value of Pack Strength.

“So many things in our lives are so fleeting. The only thing that counts — the only thing that truly lasts — is character. If we can help our guys build some solid character they can take with them — and go into life ready to deal with the ups and downs — that’s worth something.”

As a winner, Bennett and his wife, Amy, were flown to Orlando, Florida by Varsity Brands to attend the awards ceremony, which was replete with a red carpet.

“It was a great experience,” Bennett said. “On a personal level, it’s nice a feeling of validation that the work we’re doing, the time that we put in, pays off.”

The Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards Show will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on June 10.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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