VALE – Paul Bentz is a busy guy.
He owns and operates Bentz Insurance in Vale. He is married with two young boys full of energy. He holds track clinics during the summer months and plays host to track meets for the youngest athletes in the county. With so much going, Bentz decided to step down after last season as an assistant to the Ontario track and field team.
“I discussed it with my wife and decided to take a few years off,” said Bentz. “I always knew I would return to coaching track, but we decided a few years off was needed.”
Fast forward a few months. The head coaching position for Vale High School track and field opened and Bentz received a few phone calls. Then he received even more calls.
“I have a lot of persuasive customers and friends,” Bentz said. “It was a full court press from all sides. People were offering to volunteer to help at meets or asking me they could help. After a week or two, my wife and I discussed the position. She was supportive of going forward and applying for it.”
After an application, interview and school board approval, Bentz saw his few years away from the track transform into a new job within a few months.
Bentz comes with experience both on the collegiate and high school level. After running track in high school, he attended Western Oregon University on a track scholarship, running both the high hurdles and 200-meters. He coached as an assistant at Ontario High School for the past nine years.
During his tenure with the Tigers, Bentz was instrumental in signing 20 Tiger athletes to college letters of intent.
“I have maintained the contacts at the collegiate level to showcase athletes deserving a look,” said Bentz. “The kids do the work. I just help the right people see them.”
Bentz will open the spring track season in Vale with a number of goals already in place. Taking over a program comprised of nine athletes during last year’s short season, Bentz is looking for numbers immediately.
“I want a team of 30 kids this spring and 50 the year after,” said Bentz. “I have already reached out to the fall coaches and explained how track can build the athletes for their programs.”
Bentz said the base is present for the Vikings to have a successful team.
“The community is behind sports in Vale and when I hosted the children’s meets over the summer, it was Vale parents showing up and supporting their kids,” he said. “What Vale parents do for their kids is extremely impressive.”
In addition to a full team, Bentz plans include at least one home meet for Viking fans to see the local athletes in action.
“It has been three years since Vale hosted a track and field meet,” said Bentz. “It is time for the hometown fans to see a Viking team on a Viking track.”
Bentz said the future of Vale track under his direction is due to a number of people, but one in particular.
“I really want to thank my wife Leanna,” Bentz said. “When I am at practice or on the road to a meet, she is the one taking up the slack. Without her support, I could never pull this off. I also want to thank my office staff for taking care of everything when track takes me away from the office and for jumping any time I need help.”