Bendig coaching dynasty guides Iron Horse athletes
Eric Bendig was always drawn to football and decided that coaching the sport was his career calling.
“I get paid to coach,” said the 32-year-old Philip Simmons High School football coach. “But it’s more than a paycheck. Coaching is more about lifestyle. I love coaching. I love everything about it.”
The one thing about coaching that Bendig never expected? He married a woman who ended up in the coaching profession as well. His wife, Colleen, is the cheerleading coach at the school and teaches kindergarten at Philip Simmons Elementary School.
“No, not at all,” Bendig responded when asked if he ever thought, in his wildest dreams, that he would marry a coach. “I didn’t think there would be anyone who would want to put in the hours – and have to put up with me at home.”
There’s also a family connection just across the hallway at Philip Simmons High. His cousin, Mallory Bendig, is the head softball coach at PSHS and is an assistant volleyball coach.
“It’s nice to teach and coach with him,” Mallory said. “I bounce ideas off of him all the time, and he bounces ideas off me. We are advocates of the students and we want to help them succeed.”
Bendig has had great success as the football coach at the new school. The team opted for a junior varsity squad in the school’s first year of existence, and the Iron Horses went 7-1.
Just down the sideline from the football coach was his wife, leading the cheerleaders in giving support. Not only that, his 6-year-old daughter, Lilly Kate, is also on the sidelines as the Iron Horse’s cheerleading mascot.
“She, more or less, is my character,” Eric Bendig said of his wife. “She reminds me to not get too animated with the officials and to not get too loud when I’m yelling. She gives me a pretty good critique.”
Colleen attended Bishop England where she shined as a cheerleader. The couple met 10 years ago when Bendig began his coaching career as an assistant at Hanahan. Right then and there, she realized that his football family would become their extended family.
“The boys come over for dinner,” Colleen said. “That has always been a big part of our life. It’s also a big part of Lilly Kate’s life. They have an influence on her life.”
Colleen said the best thing about her husband is that he doesn’t bring work home after a tough game.
“He leaves what happens there on the field,” she said. “He talks to his team and then he’s there for his family. He comes home and we’re a family.”
Balancing coaching, teaching and family time can be a chore. But the challenge is made easy because Bending is living his dream.
“I always wanted to be in football,” he said. “I played in high school (Wando) and college (Presbyterian). When I found out the NFL wasn’t in my future, I just had to find another way to do it.”