UPDATE: This story contain additional information to its original version.
NAPPANEE — Zach Benko has resigned as head baseball coach at NorthWood High School.
After leading the Panthers to three sectional titles in the past four seasons, he informed the team Wednesday, June 11, of his plans to go to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to be an academic advisor for the football program and pursue a master's degree in sports psychology and motor behavior (a phase of kinesiolgy). He begins his new position Aug. 1.
"I'll be helping with study tables, compliance, academic tutoring, orientation for first-year students," said Benko Thursday, June 12. "I'll provide additional resources for athletes."
Benko's teams went 64-33 in four seasons, including 21-6 in 2014. The Panthers shared the Northern Lakes Conference title with Elkhart Memorial this spring.
Benko, 28, was an assistant baseball coach for one season before taking over as head coach. He was an assistant football coach as well as an English and health teacher at NWHS for five years.
"It's been a great experience to coach baseball at NorthWood," said Benko. "It was emotional (telling players and parents of his decision). The program, the boys and the friends I've made mean a lot to me."
During his time with the program, the Panthers overcame many injuries and developed a "next man in, next man up" mentality.
"The program is bigger than any player or any coach," said Benko. "I have a lot of confidence it will be successful in the future."
Zach and Jessica Benko have one child — Annie, 1.
NorthWood athletic director Norm Sellers said Thursday he would begin looking for a new head baseball coach.