Andrew Bennett’s basketball career at Eastern Christian was a large mix of success and failures.
As a sophomore, he was a contributor on one of EC’s best teams in recent memory, though his statistics reflect his smaller impact on the team with other standouts like then senior Quincy Rutherford. His junior season was an improvement statistically, though it wasn’t enough to carry EC to a winning record. His final season, however, Andrew cemented himself as a star in the NJIC and for Eastern Christian. After averaging nearly 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds a night, Andrew earned first team all conference honors, as well as winning second team all county that same season, despite the lackluster record of the team as a whole.
There is no true growth without failure, growing requires us to step out of our comfort zones and push our hearts and minds to the limits.
Andrew’s coach for the last 4 years Coach Schoener describes his improvement as “Andrew was not very good when I first saw him. He was not in great shape and looked like he hadn't played a lot. Over the years his improvement has been dramatic. He also became very dedicated to working on his body which is apparent when you look at him now.”
Andrew credits God for his improvement over his high school career, saying “There is no true growth without failure, growing requires us to step out of our comfort zones and push our hearts and minds to the limits. This optimistic ideology has forced me to take my mindset and physical growth to the next level. At the core of my general growth lies my relationship with God, whether I am on the court getting shots up, in the gym getting a new PR, it is imperative that Christ stays at the center of my life.”
Though Andrew did have an exceptional senior season, Coach Schoener was still not certain he would be able to follow him to his new coaching job at Prestige Prep Academy, a fifth year school designed to help athletes gain more exposure without losing a year of college eligibility.
Coach Schoener describes the decision to recruit Andrew as,“I took him to EKB college showcase after his senior season and he really played well. Drawing a lot of attention from all the local D-3 schools and some D-2 schools. I was still up in the air as to what I was doing. When Prestige Prep offered me the job [of head basketball coach] I felt Andrew would be an awesome addition cause we were very talented everywhere but did not have a good big man. He was a perfect fit for us and I wanted to finish our time together on a high note. Winning a conference championship and him getting a scholarship made a great ending.”
Andrew was a key part of this conference championships and was part of a balanced scoring attack that took on many highly competitive prep schools, high schools and colleges. Andrew had a number of standout games, including a 22 point, 20 rebounds outburst in a win against the prestigious Olympus Prep. Despite the season's success, Andrew says that he actually learned more from the losses. He says “As all teams do we lose games, however, we lose games to high-level competition. For me loss was a way to gauge where I stood as a player and pinpoint the key elements of my gameplay that make me unique, things that make me who I am on the court. Losing is often frowned upon in our society, however through Christ over the years I have been able to use my losses as moments to learn.”
As for his future, Andrew describes it as “Next year I will be attending the New Mexico Military Institute, which is a Division 1 JuCo (Junior College ). I plan to continue to grow as both a basketball player and a man of God, as I strive to fulfill God’s will for my life.”
Coach Schoener describes Andrew’s choice to attend New Mexico Military Institute as “An all in move. You're not going to New Mexico Military Academy to be a D-3 player. He is on a path to be a D-1 prospect”. Even with this opportunity and a vital year in his basketball career upcoming, Andrew continues to stay rooted to his faith he found at Eastern Christian.
“Eastern Christian enabled me to realize that Jesus must always be at the center of every situation, otherwise, there will be chaos and true failure. Failure to me is the lack of a relationship with God.” Coach Schoener even notes about Andrew that “Andrew's faith has always been a constant . It's who he is. It's his main priority all the time. He was a great influence on our team this year and on me also. His character and faith are evident in all he does. I couldn't be happier for him.”
As his stock in the basketball world rises higher and higher, Andrew will become more of an inspiration to EC basketball players, who is at the highest level of any EC player in a long time. His mindset and advice on his success to EC athletes is “For any Athlete dreaming to play at the next level my advice would be to never limit yourself. Philippians 4:13 says ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,’as believers, we need to hold that verse very close to our hearts and to our daily grind. My only regret in life was not giving God complete control of my future earlier, faith is the fuel that powers a BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW.”
For any Athlete dreaming to play at the next level my advice would be to never limit yourself.