By Zachary Weiss, Point Park News Service:
One phone call can make a difference – but often times it takes more than just one.
At least Eddie Benton said he feels that way. When he hoped to land a slot on the coaching staff of Duquesne University women’s basketball team, he asked a few friends to vouch for him.
“I may have called 15 people to call on my behalf to tell them how dedicated I was, how hard I worked and how loyal I am,” Benton said. “I just wanted [head coach Dan Burt] to hear that from a lot of different people.”
Considering his approach, the results could have gone either way. But Benton landed the interview.
“A lot of people in the community were mentioning Eddie’s name, and he had some people calling,” Burt said. “I finally just had to tell Eddie that he didn’t have to have anyone else call. I kind of had a good idea.”
Given time to reflect on his decisions, Benton said he would do the exact same thing if given the opportunity.
“I never looked at it to a point to where it was going to be a problem,” Benton said. “I just wanted it to be in his head that this guy works hard and is relentless from the recruiting standpoint. I wanted him to know what kind of person he was dealing with.”
The bold approach won him a fan in Duquesne’s sports information director Ryan Gavatorta too. Gavatorta already had heard about Benton when he was an assistant coach for the Robert Morris University men’s basketball team.
“His dedication to the position is tremendous,” Gavatorta said. “Recruiting isn’t easy and can be frustrating at times, but he will always keep at it. His work ethic will always be great. His experience and resume are strong. Not only has he been a head coach, he was a successful head coach.”
Ultimately, Burt did give Benton an interview and the position, proving his persistence was worth the effort.
“Eddie has a grinder mentality and works very hard,” Burt said. “That came across in his interview and wanting to get an interview. It definitely came across since he’s been on the staff.”
When Benton did get the call, he said he was very excited to see his hard work pay off, and as a Pittsburgh native, it was important to him to come back home.
“To be a part of the staff at Duquesne with all of the success from the past five years, the proof is there,” he said “This is a big-time program. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Currently, the Dukes have the goal to reach the NCAA tournament after five consistent years of being close but not able to make that jump. Burt, Benton and the rest of the coaching staff set goals for the team to accomplish when the players came back to school, including a seven-minute mile.
With the staff’s help and Benton’s hard work and persistence, the team has responded.
“I’ve never seen a team get after it the way our girls did,” Benton said.