Faith Through It All

As one of nine children in his family, Dixie High School’s Tyler Bennett understands the importance of working with a team. With two older siblings living outside of the home, Tyler has stepped into the leadership role among the rest of the Bennett children.

Dixie High Class of 2016 Basketball & Soccer 4.0GPA

Tyler’s chief role certainly extends beyond his family and onto the basketball court this year as a returning senior for the Flyers. What makes it even sweeter is that Tyler’s younger brother, Jace, will be wearing Dixie blue this year as a sophomore. “It will be fun. I really like playing with him,” says Bennett. “We practice every morning together already, so I like that a lot.”

With a daily 2.5 – 3 hour practice after school, followed by an hour or more of homework each night to maintain his 4.0 GPA, Tyler has learned to prioritize. Game day for Tyler is no exception, and you can find him in the gym with his father, Steve, first thing in the morning. Says Tyler, “I really like getting into the gym with my dad and brother before game day. It helps to start early and get my shooting down.”

Tyler shares what it was like to hit a buzzer beater against Bear River in the quarterfinals of the State Basketball Tournament as a junior. Dixie had been down by one going into the final seconds of the game. Tyler recounts, “That was a really different feeling. We had a pretty solid lead the whole game, and they made a run at the end. We missed a couple assignments, and they got a one-point lead on us. Coach drew up a great play, and everyone executed. I hit the shot, and we won the game. It was fun with all of my teammates yelling and jumping all over me. I was trying hard to avoid a dog pile.”

Photo by Robert Hoppie

Tonia Bennett, Tyler’s mother, recalls the emotion she and the rest of family felt watching it all unfold on television. “It had to be executed so perfectly for it to work out. With two seconds left and them having to go the full length of the court, Tyler got a lot of credit for the shot. But with the pass from RJ to Richard, it was all so exciting. All of us at home were just jumping up and down screaming.”

The semifinal game against Desert Hills was another memorable experience for Tyler. The quadruple overtime was one for the books. “That was a long game. We were all so exhausted. We had a lot of people getting into foul trouble late in the game.” Tyler remembers, “We had to have a lot of guys step up and play extra minutes that they normally didn’t play. They were tired. We were tired. It was definitely a memory, and one I will never forget.”

One incredible aspect of school athletics is the opportunity to compound experiences. You learn and grow as an individual, and when surrounded by the right people, relationships can be strengthened. “What he won’t tell you is that he is working during the summer three to four hours a day,” shares his mother. “He is in the gym lifting, shooting at the church, practicing in the driveway, yet what makes all of this so special is the camaraderie he has been able to build with his father and his brothers.”

Tyler hopes to set an example of kindness towards others so that the tradition of kindness continues when the current underclassmen find themselves in Tyler’s position. Relying heavily on the life lessons instilled in him by a his coaches, Tyler hopes that he and his teammates will always “stay positive and work to strengthen each other. Coach Cuff has taught us [how]to become men and how to be good examples in the community. I love my coaches. Coach is really good about preparing us for life after basketball.”

“I really like getting into the gym with my dad and my brother before game day. It helps to start early and get my shooting down.”

One hint into who Tyler Bennett is as an individual can be found in the challenges he overcomes. Tyler has scoliosis and an extra vertebra. “Tyler plays through a lot of back pain which most people would never guess.” Tonia expounds, “Because of his scoliosis, at times, his ribs will pop out of place. His dad [physical therapist] in the middle of a game has had to pop them back into place. He has been though a lot of adversity.”

Tyler’s’ most recent bout of adversity came off the court during the off-season. Tyler shares, “I had a recent injury…I crashed on a wake board, and when I got home off the lake that day, I had a seizure on August 29th. I was diagnosed with a concussion. I talked to my doctor, and he said we should get an MRI. He saw something called a Chiari Malformation, so I had to get cleared by a neurologist. I wasn’t going to be able to get into an office for 3-6 months cause they were all booked, so I couldn’t get cleared to play [basketball].”

Photo by Robert Hoppie

Through this most recent experience, Tyler relied heavily upon his LDS faith. Tyler’s family, together with coaches, teammates, LDS ward and stake members, joined in a fast on his behalf. It was shortly after this fast together with a priesthood blessing from his Stake President that Tyler was able to get in to see the neurologist. He was eventually cleared to play. “Not being able to play basketball with my team and hardly being able to do anything for seven weeks was my biggest trial so far.”

Tyler shares a particular LDS scripture that has made a significant impact on his life. Found in the Book of Ether, 12:27 “And if men come unto me I will show them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Athletes endure many things: the highs and lows, the pains and the injuries. Tyler Bennett, through his example and faith has handled his success and adversity like the incredible young man his parents and coaches have taught him to be, both humble and strong. • HSSI