By John Ring
Published December 9, 2021 in The Burg
When Brad Bennewitz started broadcasting Silver Streak basketball games on WGIL in 1993, that was basically seven head coaches, four Presidents and two long Wars ago.
A lot has changed since then except for one thing-- Bennewitz still provides the steady,
consistent and superb calling of Silver Streak games today just as he did in 1993. Galesburg’s been fortunate to have Silver Streak basketball games called by guys like Brad, Robb Strack and Bill Pearson for decades.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve listened to Brad call Silver Streak games from all over the place. In my my hospital bed in 1998, on my truck radio at night, in the Desert during one war and in Afghanistan during another. Brad’s been to a lot of places with me and he doesn’t even know that.
But that’s the connection he has with those who listen to Silver Streak basketball. It’s a
constant, a given, a necessity if you love the Silver Streaks. You need Brad to be there for you.
So catching up with him last Friday night before the Moline game wasn’t work for me; it was a pleasure. Brad Bennewitz and I could talk basketball together for hours but we both had to get ready for the Maroons-Streaks game.
I heard you on the air the other day and it hit me I couldn’t remember when your first season was covering the Streaks basketball team. When was that?
“I started doing color in 1992 with Tom Meredith. Then, Tom left and I started doing play by play in 1993 and kept going until 2006. That’s when I became a teacher at GHS and at that point, I figured I was done because I wanted to focus on teaching. Roger Lundeen asked me if I wanted to keep on doing the broadcasts and I said I wouldn’t mind but that I needed to focus on teaching. But then Mike Perry left after four years, I talked to Jim Lee about doing it so we came back together in 2010 and it’s worked out.”
You still seem to have fun doing it. How do you do that after these years?
“There’s really three things about that and the first is, it’s about the kids. Celebrating what they do. Promoting what they are doing. Second, we keep in mind it’s just a game and we try to make it enjoyable. Some games aren’t but we do our best. Third, we want to be factual and accurate. When Pick [Jeremy Pickrel] came on board this season we talked about us being hometown broadcasters, which means we are not completely unbiased like the network guys.
This is our hometown, this is our team and our home town fans our the audience.”
What’s changed the most in terms of the high school game itself? Does anything strike
you about that?
“Just the pace of the game. It’s faster now than when I started, there’s a fast break mentality now. Even defenses are geared more to create offense. It hasn’t been a dramatic development but it’s really about going out and putting on a show. Television has influence it a lot.”
You and I both go way back with the Western Big 6. It’s been one of the most stable
conferences in the State of Illinois. What did the addition of bringing in Geneseo and Sterling do to it?
“It improved it a lot. All through that process, there was a commitment to keep everything intact.
The two new schools seemed committed to the Big 6. They came in and had great respect for the conference and wanted the name to stay the same. That was very classy. There was some fear Quincy might leave but I didn’t think they would. First off, where would they go? Their coaches wanted to stay. It made sense for them to stay. The Western big 6 is special and sometimes when you go to other conference schools you find that out. It makes you really appreciate how special Western Big 6 basketball is.”
Last question; what do you think Chad Thompson brings to the Silver Streak program as a coach?
“Gosh, where do I begin? He is absolutely dedicated to this basketball program and community.
His pride and ownership as a former player and graduate of GHS shows and as a coach we’re going to see more of that. He’s tremendously organized and is willing to build the program from the bottom up and that takes a lot of work. He soaks up everything he can; he’s a sponge. If he stays here a long time, I can only imagine what type of Chad Thompson program will evolve.
The new video shown before the game, that’s a pride aspect of what he’s doing. I was excited when I heard he applied for the job. This basketball program is in good shape for a long time to come.”