TWINSBURG — A 2019 Twinsburg High School graduate died March 12 in a boating accident.
According to information from Wittenberg University, where Jack Benak was studying graphic design and marketing, he was in southwest Florida at the time. A freshman, Benak was in his first year as a member of the Wittenberg University Men’s Soccer Team. He also played on Twinsburg High School's soccer team and was captain.
Twinsburg’s boys soccer coach Mike Lally said that Benak was "a real big personality in the locker room, a great kid."
"He was one of a handful that started every match from his freshman to his senior year," Lally said. "He had an absolutely huge impact. He came back here on break and visited a couple weeks ago. He was well respected not just by the coaches but by a lot of people in the community. It's a cruel loss for the community."
According to information on Wittenberg University's website, Benak was a four-year varsity letter winner/starter, a two-time All-Suburban League Honorable Mention, a two-time All-Greater Cleveland Honorable Mention, First Team All Suburban League, and Second Team All Greater Cleveland.
"As a starting center midfielder for three years, Jack, ‘#7,’ led our Tigers to a 21-16-5 record and three top 10 appearances in the GCSSCA poll," said Superintendent Kathryn Powers. "Jack enjoyed the sport of soccer so much that he served as a camp counselor for our community’s youth soccer program. It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of a young person. I know you join me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to Jack’s parents, John and Denise Benak, and to Jack’s sister Ellen who is also a graduate of Twinsburg High School, Class of 2014."
Academically, Benak received the Perfect Attendance Award and Suburban League Scholar Athlete Award.
Powers said that a support team of Beech Brook counselors, school counselors and school psychologists will be available at Twinsburg High School to provide support to students, parents, and staff members. In addition, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. grief counseling will be available at Twinsburg High School for alumni and their families.
"I am truly saddened by this devastating loss," said Wittenberg University President Dr. Michael Frandsen. "Please join me in extending sympathy to Jack's family, his Tiger soccer family, and all who knew him. Let's all support each other in this difficult time."
Dr. Gary Williams, the vice president and director of athletics and recreation with Wittenberg, said that the community "has suffered a tragic loss of a truly exceptional young man."
"We extend our deepest condolences to Jack’s family, members of the men’s soccer team, their coaches and support staff, his professors and all those who loved Jack," Williams said. "We ask that all members of the Wittenberg community support one another at this time and pray for all of those whose lives Jack touched."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC