The mindset for DiShon Benjamin won’t change even though the challenge is greater in being named the first girls basketball coach for the Dothan High Wolves.
“My first thought is it is a greater opportunity to impact the lives of more girls,” Benjamin said. “My number one objective is to help girls who want to further their education and play basketball.
“Wins and losses are important, but helping kids get into college with little to no debt is more important than wins or losses to me.”
Benjamin, 45, who has led the Northview girls basketball program for the past five years, was approved as the new coach of the Wolves’ program during a Dothan City Schools board meeting on Monday night.
The Headland native compiled a 55-55 record as the Cougars’ coach and will now lead a girls basketball program that will be the consolidation of Northview and Dothan High for the upcoming school year.
“I look forward to being a Wolf,” he said.
Benjamin has been in the Dothan school system since August of 2001 when he was hired to be an assistant wide receivers coach for the football team at Northview. He then moved to Girard Middle School the following year as the boys basketball coach and an assistant football coach before being elevated to athletic director and head football coach at the school from 2003-2011.
In 2012, Benjamin returned to Northview High as running backs coach and JV boys basketball coach. He became the head girls basketball coach in 2014 and added the duties as head girls track coach and JV volleyball coach in 2016.
With the combination of players from both Dothan and Northview, Benjamin said his coaching style could change. He ran a patient-style offense with the Cougars.
“With this combined school system, we might not be as patient,” Benjamin said. “We might turn the heat up and become more of an attack offense. That just depends on the girls.”
No matter the style of play, Benjamin believes the girls will adapt well through the consolidation process.
“I think all the girls want to win,” Benjamin said. “Even the girls at Dothan High know what I can do for them after high school. That coming together part isn’t going to be an issue.
“We’re going to get on the court and we’re going to play basketball. I’m going to have a meeting as soon as I can and we’re going to get started as soon as possible.”
Benjamin said he really saw the impact of helping athletes earn college scholarships when he was an assistant football coach under former Cougars head coach LaBrian Stewart.
“The first day I came over here for a signing day I cried, because I saw the impact a coach could have on his players,” Benjamin said. “From that day forward, I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.’”
Benjamin experienced what is was like to not quite reach the next level.
“When I was in high school, my mom said I could play only one sport,” Benjamin said. “At that time, I was a better football player than I was a basketball player, so I said, ‘I guess I’ll just play football.’
“I played football a couple of years and just like most of the other kids, you have these NFL dreams. Well, those dreams don’t always come true.
“I only got one letter from a small school. I went up there and visited and things went well, and they said, ‘We would love for you to come play, but at this time we cannot offer you any (scholarship) money.’ That shocked me. I went off and did some other things for a couple of years and then I went to school and got my degree (at Troy University).”
Now he hopes to build strong teams and help his players earn a scholarship.
“That is my motivating factor,” Benjamin said. “The best way I can do that is by being head coach. If I can help girls and change the direction of their lives – that’s the pay in it.”