Column: Changing of the guard

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2005

By Staff
Tuesday afternoon signaled a changing of the guard in Dowagiac softball.
Mike Behnke took over the helm of the program that for the previous 16 years was under the direction of Randy Brooks.
Behnke, like Brooks in his season opener at Cassopolis, admitted his was a little nervous.
And, like Brooks, he saw his team win in his debut.
Dowagiac didn't miss a beat in switching from its former coach to its new coach.
The Chieftains swept a non-divisional doubleheader from visiting Portage Central.
The Lady Mustangs are one of the better programs in Southwestern Michigan year in and year out, so sweeping the twinbill was no small feat.
Where Brooks didn't know much about the team he was inheriting at Cassopolis, Behnke knew plenty about his squad.
He spent several seasons as Brooks' assistant at the varsity level and last year coached several of his players as he took over the junior varsity program.
Another advantage that Behnke has over Brooks in his switching of positions is a rich softball tradition.
Dowagiac softball has been an area powerhouse since the late 1970s when Denny Dock got the program rolling.
Brooks replaced Dock after being his junior varsity coach and kept the ball rolling.
I expect nothing less from Behnke.
Not only does Behnke know about the tradition of excellence at Dowagiac, he has lived it.
I know most of you know his story, but for those who do not, let me just point out the fact that he played on the 1990 state championship football team and was part of Dowagiac's baseball program that was ranked among the state's best.
Behnke is a true Chieftain and he will work as hard as he can to continue to improve on that tradition of excellence.
Behnke, who knows the frustration of not being able to get out of the districts, is hoping to take that next step with this squad which returns seven starters.
Behnke wants to build on the success that Brooks has achieved in the previous 16 seasons and is hoping that with a little change here and there, can finally get over the hump.
There is no doubt that Behnke and Brooks helped keep Dowagiac softball rolling as a team.
Now he must carry on with the help of assistant coach Kyle Belew and junior varsity coach Jeff Yauchstetter.
I have the upmost faith that Behnke will carry on the proud tradition of Chieftain softball.