Nearly fatal accident forces Dakota coach to retire - – Rockford’s News Leader

Nearly fatal accident forces Dakota coach to retire

Tayler Burns (left) talks basketball with Coach Brian Benning (right). Tayler Burns (left) talks basketball with Coach Brian Benning (right).

A man who has given more than 30 years to education and coaching will end his career for good. Dakota Coach Brian Benning will have his last regular season game Friday.

Benning nearly died two years ago in a car crash. Although, he came back to the team and the school he loves he says it was just too much for his body. And it's time to say goodbye.

"I came back and I tried to teach for the year, my goal was to try to make it through the year," says Coach Benning.

Benning fell a little short. He made it through the first semester before he said he could not do it anymore. On February 1, 2011, three weeks before end of basketball season he was hit head-on by a semi. Benning was in a coma for a month and the hospital for four months.   He's had 13 surgeries and until last year he still had to rely on a wheel chair.

"When you've done something 3 decades and it's all you know it makes it really hard to step away but I also think mentally and emotionally I know I'm not the same. It's hard to really admit that but it's true," says Benning.

Hard to hear for players and colleagues.

"He's an amazing clinical coach as far as being able to see something on the floor and turn it into action," says Eric Rankin, Dakota High School athletic director.

"He's just truly an inspiration to me," says Tayler Burns, Dakota High School senior.

Benning helped lead students like Burns to a state appearance in golf. But the coach does not take credit for those accomplishment.

"I feel proud of what the teams I've had have been able to accomplish and that's not really a reflection on me but a reflection on all the kids I've had," says Benning.

He has had a long coaching career in the stateline. He spent a decade at Orangeville as the head football and basketball coach. Eleven years with Harlem's football team and he's spent the last 10 years at Dakota.

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