Remembering a life taken too soon

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University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown's Samuel Benshoff plays during a soccer game. PROVIDED PHOTO

WAYNESBORO – Samuel Benshoff was doing what he loved – playing soccer.

On Friday, Jan. 10, he met with friends for a meal and fellowship. He never made it home.

Benshoff died from injuries suffered in a one-car accident in Washington Township.

The shock and grief that followed was profound. It’s hard to explain or accept a life taken so soon. Friends and family pondered the ways to honor Benshoff’s memory – and it was soccer.

Benshoff, a 2021 WASHS graduate who played for the Indians, was only 19 years old. He was going back to University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he was studying Civil Engineering and was a defender on the men’s soccer team.

Honoring his memory was first and foremost on the minds of those who knew him. Waynesboro Area Senior High School boys’ soccer coach Brian Stum put together an impromptu soccer game at Buchanan Auto Park Stadium on a frigid January night.

The next week, WASHS teacher and girls’ soccer coach Brian Fisher organized Samuel’s Game, an indoor game that coincided with already-scheduled indoor soccer games held on Sundays during the winter inside the WASHS gymnasium.

“Come out this Sunday (Jan. 30) to help support Samuel’s family,” stated the Facebook post. “No pre-registration required. Teams will be formed based on who and how many come out to play. Hope to see you there!”

Quite appropriately, the promotion of the game went on to read, “Honor Samuel’s legacy by playing the game he loved.”

“It was a beautiful, honoring gesture that Coach Fisher and the entire soccer community did for our family. Samuel would have loved it,” said Samuel’s mother, Michelle.

The $20 cost included a T-shirt designed by Samuel’s younger sister, True.

“(Samuel) played (in the previous Sunday’s indoor soccer game),” Fisher said a few days before the game, which involved well over 100 people there to show love to the Benshoff family. “Just a great family, an awesome group of people. I had his older brother, Luke, in class. I had his older sister Christa in class, too.

“Samuel played indoor soccer; he had done this eight years, since he was 10 years old. He had been playing a number of years in indoor soccer. We said that anybody who wants to play to stick around for a couple hours afterwards, do something Samuel would have wanted to o. He loved soccer; he had a passion for the game. He would probably enjoy that people were having fun.”

All proceeds from the game went to the Benshoff family.

“I asked (True) if (playing the 10 v 10 game) was something she wanted to do,” Fisher said. “That’s what her mom said; playing the game is something he would have wanted to do. True is super passionate about soccer.”

Fisher recalled that Samuel volunteered his time and knowledge of soccer by helping out with the girls’ team.

“He would actually come out to practices,” he said. “He came out in the summer and helped. He was a really good positive role model. I didn’t know him well, but every time I saw him he was a hard-working respectful kid. It was very evident he loved the game. He competed hard.”

Soccer players band together for a group picture following an indoor game that benefited the Benshoff family. PROVIDED PHOTO