PHS baseball coach Ty Bennett wants to be the best he can be for the players
It’s a gray, overcast day at the Sand Devils baseball diamond. Low-hanging clouds obscure the top of the Vermilion Cliffs. It rains for a while; it stops for a while. The field is damp but not soggy.
Coach Ty Bennett’s baseball team is fresh off big double-header wins against Ganado, and the team is feeling confident. They have a bounce in their step. They’re in a good mood.
It’s a Tuesday. The team should be in Kayenta playing Monument Valley, but the game was postponed due to snowy, rainy weather. Bennett wants to take advantage of his team’s good spirits and a free practice day and do some team-building exercises.
Bennett divides his team into two smaller teams, who then compete with each other in various drills. The set of drills incorporate batting, fielding, baserunning, fitness and mental challenges. The challenges are fast paced and occur back-to-back to keep the team’s mental and physical attributes moving at a high level.
“Because the game against Monument Valley got cancelled this week, we have a 10-day break between games,” Bennett said. “Today’s practice was designed to help us work better as a team and to keep our competitive fire burning.”
This is Bennett’s second season as head coach. He served as an assistant coach in the 2021 season. He was head coach of the JV team in 2020 but coached only a few games that year before the season – and everything else – ended when COVID arrived and the shutdown began. The season before that, in 2019, Bennett worked with the team as a volunteer.
Bennett also works as PUSD’s safety and security coordinator. He was hired in December 2022.
Born and raised in Page, Bennett grew up playing little league baseball, in the years when the sport was extremely popular in Page. In those days, Page had around 15 Little League baseball teams.
“We had so many teams in Page back then that we didn’t need to travel to other towns to play games,” Bennett remembers.
During his high school years, he also played baseball for the Sand Devils all but his senior year. “I did track my senior year because my girlfriend was in track, and she wanted me to do track,” he said.
He laughs when he thinks about that now.
Growing up, Bennett enjoyed playing baseball a great deal, but it was never a main concern.
“Baseball wasn’t always huge for me,” Bennett said. “It wasn’t my main priority. In high school, I was into football.”
Bennett gained a deeper appreciation for baseball only after graduating from high school.
“My interest in baseball really took off after I started learning the strategy of the game,” he said. “In high school it was just a game. I only needed to know my position and that was enough for me. But once I started understanding the strategy of it all, that made it much more intriguing.”
Bennett said he approaches a baseball game like it’s a chess match, in a lot of ways.
“You have to think several moves ahead, and you have to be smart with every move you make,” he said. “Sometimes one good play can save the game, and sometimes one bad play can ruin the game.”
The more Bennett learns about baseball, the more he realizes what a cerebral sport it is.
“It’s mental, mental, mental,” he said. “You have to be mentally strong to be successful in baseball.”
Bennett said part of his strategy for building a winning team has been improving his own, and his player’s, mental part of the game. He credits the increased emphasis on the mental part of the game to the Sand Devils successful season last year.
“I think that’s the main reason we went from a zero-win season in 2021 to a season where we had only two regular-season losses last year, won region, and made the playoffs in 2022,” Bennett said.
The team’s goal is to win state, and Bennett is optimistic about their chances. He has a very talented team this year, and seven of his nine starters are seniors.
“All of my seniors are great batters, fielders and have high baseball IQs,” he said. “I would pick them at their individual positions over any player in our region.”
Bennett is joined by assistant coaches Dakota Richardson, Gregg Martinez, Cody Sanderson, Clint McCormick, Denton Siebrecht and Tim Bennett, who is Ty’s father.
Halfway through his second year as head coach, Bennett is loving it.
“I love it! Even the stressful parts,” he said. “I stress over games a lot. Especially region games. I get a knot in my stomach before every game, especially against hard teams, when I know we have to play a perfect game to win.”
Bennett wants to be the best coach he can be for his players.
“They put so much into it. They’re dedicated. They want to win state this year. I don’t want to be the thing that holds us back,” he said.
Bennett started filming the games and reviewing them afterward.
“Sometimes I get mad at myself for some of the decisions I made, but overall it’s good,” he said. “I’m teaching myself where to make changes.”
After being hired as head coach, the first person Ty turned to was his father.
“I said, ‘I need some help. I don’t know what I just got myself into,’” Bennett said.
His father was more than happy to help and join his son on the diamond.
“I’m constantly looking to my dad for answers and solutions,” Bennett said. “His role is to step in when I’m struggling and second-guessing myself. He always knows what to do or say in situations when I’m not sure of the best move.”
Bennett is married to Braedyn Bennett, who works at PUSD’s physical therapist. They have two sons, Brooks and Nolan.