This page is a tribute to Canal Winchester Cross Country and Track & Field coach John Bender who passed away on September 14th, 2013 due to complications of leukemia and congestive heart failure.
A proud graduate of Canal Winchester High School (class of 1960), Coach John Bender resurrected the cross country program at Canal Winchester in 1993 after it had disappeared for several years. He coached cross country from 1993 to 2013, serving as the head coach of all four teams (high school girls, high school boys, middle school girls, and middle school boys) for all 21 seasons. As a high school cross country coach (boys & girls) he won 12 Mid-State League titles, 9 district titles (8 in D2, 1 in D1), 3 regional titles, 10 state berths, and a state runner up in 2006 (D2 boys). He coached 12 individual MSL champions, 5 district champions, 20 state qualifiers, 1 regional champion, and 6 All-Ohioans (3 podium finishers).
John also coached girls track & field at Canal Winchester from 1993 to 2013.
As a track & field coach he won 7 Mid-State League titles, 1 district title, and 2 district runners-up. He coached 20 individual state placers and one state champion (Heather Russel, D3 200m in ’93).
John remained active in coaching until his strength took a turn for the worse in early September of 2013. John was much more than a great coach. He was one of the most genuine, good-hearted men that many had the pleasure of knowing. Not only was he passionate about competing, but he was also just as passionate about serving, motivating, and inspiring kids of all abilities and backgrounds. He was a tireless recruiter because he believed sport had the ability to make a lasting impact on the lives of every young person. Coach Bender is dearly missed at Canal Winchester. Fortunately, his legacy lives on through the thousands of lives he impacted as a coach and as a leader in the community.
What follows is a collection of articles, writings, and art work created in tribute to Coach Bender.
Run 4 Bender Story Written by Joelle Zuberi (CW class of 2016)
Flock of Geese Poem Written by Kassidy Pastor (CW class of 2018)
Dr. Bender 5k Local July road race held in honor of Coach Bender
Bender Remembered For Service to Students, City ThisWeek News article by Andrew Miller
Tribute to Canal Winchester Coach John Bender Tribute posted on the cross country forum "Yappi", featuring responses from area high school coaches
2015 Team Poster created by LeAnna Moore (CW class of 2016)