Coach Ted Benz smiles with TFA Athletic Director Will Cohen after receiving the Kroy and Kelley Crofoot Lifetime Service Award on May 10, 2019. Benz has been at TFA for 11 years. Photo courtesy of TFA Athletics.
One could argue that no one knows more about cross country in the Central Florida area coach Ted Benz. Benz, who has been the assistant XC and track and field coach for The First Academy in Orlando for the past 12 years, has been coaching for the past 54 years.
For the 80-year-old Benz, his reason for still coaching is simple.
"I still love it," he said.
Coach Benz started his coaching journey as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida under the legendary Jimmy Carnes. From there, he made coaching stops at Boone High School and Conway Middle School, before settling in at Edgewater High School, where he was a coach for the Eagles from 1971 until 2006. Benz led the Eagles to a state XC championship in 1994.
Benz admits that his style and his philosophy are very old school, or as he puts it run, run and run. He says that he developed as a coach by reading and learning what was going on around me, or as he puts it, watching the other teams get better. He believes that the passion that he has for the sport is a result of his faith.
"The biggest thing that I learned is to do what the Lord wants me to do," he said. "That's why I have such passion for it."
One of the lessons that Benz tries to teach his athletes is the importance of teamwork and how working together benefits each individual. One of Benz's popular quotes is "we run as a team, we win as a team."
"The biggest lesson that I learned from Coach Benz was how important teamwork is," Nate Scheer, former runner said. "He showed us the value of working with others and how to use each other's strengths to win, a practice that I use today at my current job."
Benz's roll has changed a bit as an assistant coach in his 12 years at TFA. His main goal now is to serve the people that he coaches and that he works with.
"Right now, I'm a servant," he said. "I hope I have enough of a servant's heart to keep my big mouth shut and not criticize, but to be uplifting," he said.
Serving the sport, is exactly what Benz continues to do.
He holds a relentless pursuit day after day when it comes to the sport of track and field and it's something he has learned overtime and instilled into his athletes over the years.
It's this spirit that earned him the Jimmy Carnes Lifetime Achievement Award a this year's FACA track and field clinic. Named after his first coaching mentor, this award represents what Benz has done for the central Florida running community and beyond.