A College Preparatory Private School with Two Campuses in Suffolk, VA. Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12.

Ellie Benes '24 Named 13NewsNow Athlete of the Week

Ellie Benes '24

Photo by WVEC

“When I step into the box my brain just kind of shuts off,” said Nansemond-Suffolk outfielder Ellie Benes '24. “I just think trust your mechanics, trust what you’ve worked on in practice and honestly I’m just thinking hit the ball.”

It’s a simple approach for Benes, who boasts a .455 batting average among a talented roster that led the Saints to four consecutive VISAA Division II state championships.

Head Coach Brittany Thornburg '08 is in her 10th year at the helm of the program and says it's players like Benes that keep her around.

"Kids like Ellie make it easy and fun to come out here and coach. They want to work hard, they want to get better, and they want to win," said Thornburg. "There's not a whole lot I can tell her when she steps into the box besides stay loose and have fun. That's exactly who I want to be in the box in a clutch situation." 

“Softball is my life, and it has been forever. It’s a sport that I love,” said Benes.

Benes has been playing softball since she was nine but loving something is also knowing when to let it go. The senior has recently decided that playing college softball isn’t for her.  

“At the end of my sophomore year when I struggled with it, I’m like if it gets to a point where I’m struggling this much and I’m not having as much fun do I want to further this in college to the collegiate level,” Benes said.

After all, no one’s journey is linear, let alone a sports journey.

“Sometimes softball would get me really down and now that I'm not playing in college I just want to have fun with it,” Benes explained.  

Although sports teach us valuable lessons as Benes has found, it may also cause us to rearrange our priorities.

“It’s taught me to always get back up and just keep working hard,” Benes said. “You’ve got to put yourself first and if your mental health isn’t there with what you love then maybe take a step back." In doing so, Benes realized one thing.

“I love softball but it's really the people who I’ve been playing with that make the sport.”

So, with one season left, again, the approach is simple.

“I’ve just been focusing on making good memories and just having a positive attitude towards the sport and just making the most of it since it’s going to be hard saying goodbye.”

Benes also felt like she wanted to put more time into learning what she wants to study in college.

“Last year I was really struggling to figure out what I wanted to do in college, so I was like I think I need to focus on that more than softball,” said Benes. “Marketing has kind of always been in the back of my mind, I like it. So that’s what I decided to apply to Tech for. When I got my acceptances that was the only school I cried for.”

So, in a few short months, Benes will hit the road for Blacksburg to pursue a marketing degree but not without soaking in the final few months with her teammates. 

"They mean the world to me," she said. "I've played with some of these girls on this team since 8th grade and they're honestly just the best group of people. I've just been surrounded with the best coaches and teammates to the point where it just makes softball so much fun and better as a sport." 

This article was first featured on 13NewsNow.com.


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