Very few athletes have the opportunity to coach or play with a sibling, but two sisters are sharing that experience on the Salt Lake Community College softball team.
Assistant coach Tara Bendt and freshman outfielder Sara Bendt come from a family ripe in athletic talent. Their parents, who both competed in track and cross-country in college, tried to pass on the running legacy to their daughters.
“My twin sister [Kara] and I grew up playing every sport,” Tara says. “Our parents definitely hoped for us to be runners, but we fell in love with softball, and along the way so did they.”
Though there is a ten-year age gap between Sara and her twin sisters, the Bendts have been involved in each other’s lives and supported each other throughout their athletic careers.
“I think the passion that we have for the game, you can see it in both of us,” Sara says.
Tara says Sara developed a love and passion for the game at a very young age. Their father, Mike, was coaching by that time, so Sara has been coached by her father and her sisters throughout her career.
The matriarch of the family, Shellie, also played an important role.
“Our mom just became the supporter. She came to everything and was always there for us,” Tara says.
The Bendt sisters are always trying to be positive influences for each other. But the close relationship also carries high expectations.
“It’s hard honestly, she’s hard on me. Harder on me than anyone else,” Sara says. “She expects a lot from me and pushes me to my potential. At the end of the day she’s my best friend and I want to be the player she was, so that’s what helps make it easier.”
As an outfielder for the Bruins, Tara earned SWAC Player of the Year and NJCAA First Team All-American honors in 2008. Tara recognizes that she expects a lot out of her sister but knows tough love is part of coaching a family member.
“I definitely am hard on her and have to remember to stay patient some times. I want the best for her and expect her best at all times,” Tara says. “Coaching her is great. We keep softball out of the home situation as much as possible and it’s been very easy. I’m very impressed with her growth and development since stepping on to campus. I have always been proud of her and will always push her to strive for greatness.”
While Sara may have some big shoes to fill, her future looks promising. She is currently hitting .369 with 18 RBIs and 24 runs. Defensively she has been perfect, committing zero errors.
Arguably the most memorable moment of this season for the Bendt sisters may be the home run Sara hit during her first collegiate at-bat.
“Watching my sister hit her very first home run on her very first at-bat in college was such a cool sister moment,” Tara says. “I knew it was one of her goals to hit a home run and it was a proud moment for me to see her achieve that.”
There is a family element that is on display when the Bruin softball team takes the field. The team lives and dies for each other and the Bruin sisterhood is as strong a bond for the team as it is for the Bendt sisters.
“We’ve all grown up with this sport and I think my sister definitely does a good job trying to maintain that love with everyone on the team,” Sara says. “We want to [share] that family feeling and make everyone our sisters. She has become everyone’s big sister in a sense, not only mine.”