Incoming Sports Editor
There are a few records in sports that most consider to be “unbreakable.” Wilt Chamberlain’s 50 point-per-game average in the 1961-62 season, Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points and Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played just to name a few. The University of Dayton also has one of these records in its midst, but it comes from a place you might not expect.
Fifth-year senior, and civil engineering major, Benton Birch is Dayton’s most accomplished intramural athlete of all-time, and it’s not particularly close.
Birch has been a member of 122 intramural teams, played in 258 games and won 164 games. For reference, second place in each category has 109, 174, and 132 respectively. The statistic for league championships is not kept on the IMLeagues website, but Birch estimates that he has around 20 (he lost track).
Birch’s path to where he is now started early. After playing nearly every sport he could in elementary school, he discovered it was something he could thrive doing.
“I started to realize that I would learn how to play games very quickly,” Birch said. “I have good hand-eye coordination and started seeing that I was getting pretty good at sports.”
In high school, Birch continued to excel, playing varsity basketball, baseball and soccer. Birch even had a Division-1 collegiate career, when he was a walk-on for Dayton’s football team as a kicker for one year.
“My high school never had a football team, and I always wanted to play football growing up,” Birch said. “One of my high school teachers was a football coach at a different school, so I got in touch with him about working with me and seeing what I could do. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying out.”
In his sophomore year, Birch opted to take on a more unorthodox sport, joining Dayton’s club Ultimate Frisbee team. To no one’s surprise he began to thrive immediately.
“[Birch] came to tryouts and we could immediately tell that he was a standout athlete,” senior Travis Brosnan said. “He didn’t have much experience throwing a disc, but from the jump his athleticism and smarts made him a good player. After four years, he could walk on to any team and get playing time right now. He’s a dominant player.”
Birch explained that his background in athletics made the sport an easy fit.
“It’s a lot like a combination of concepts from soccer and football with a Frisbee so I was able to catch on quickly.”
Of course, Birch’s true dominance comes in intramurals. While his numbers are astronomical, his greatness comes from very humble origins.
“I definitely wouldn’t say I set out to play as many intramurals as I have,” Birch said. “I just can’t sit still for very long, so it got to a point that if any of my friends were putting together a team, I joined.”
Birch’s participation grew exponentially from the time he started.
“I started with the basic sports like flag football, basketball, and soccer because that’s what I was familiar with,” Birch said. “It kind of grew exponentially off of that as I kept making more friends and making more teams.”
As for how he’s so successful, Birch credits his competitive nature.
“I just hate losing,” Birch said. “It’s obviously just intramurals so I don’t lose sleep over it, but I get super competitive in the moment.”
In his long and illustrious career, Birch has many great memories. However, the one that stands out to him occurred his junior year in outdoor coed soccer. After being turned away by the captain of one team who was a mutual friend, he joined a different team.
“I told my friend to tell his captain we would beat them in the championship,” Birch said.
The two teams did eventually meet in the finals. Benton scored the game winning goal with less than a minute left.
“I just gave the captain a look afterward like ‘I told you so,’” Birch said.
Birch has also won three championships in one night – all in different divisions of flag football.
As a Civil Engineering major, a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, an RA and the member of the club Ultimate Frisbee team; so how does he make time for all the intramurals?
“I don’t really make time for, it just kind of is my free time,” Birch said. “I don’t play many video games or anything, I’d just rather spend my time doing something active. It’s a great way to stay active and spend time with my friends.”
As for post-graduation, Birch will be working an engineering job in Dayton. He will be playing his last few intramural games in the next couple weeks, but his legacy as the greatest intramural athlete in UD’s history is cemented, and it’s unlikely he’ll be dethroned anytime soon.