Benson named next Tiftarea Academy athletic director

Apr. 6—CHULA — When the 2024-25 school year gets going, Tiftarea Academy will have a new athletic director. It won't take long for the Panthers and fans to learn the name of the new leader, as he is someone they already know well: Chance Benson.

Currently baseball head coach and upper school principal at Tiftarea, Benson will take over from the retiring Dr. Kip Stevens. Tiftarea's announcement said Benson's start date is July 1.

Benson said he welcomes "a different challenge."

"I have a passion for athletics, and especially Tiftarea athletics," he said.

Benson said he has been a vocal supporter of all athletics at the school and has a clear idea of what he'd like to see in the future. "I'd like to see us good at everything," he said. "I want to see us consistently excellent across the boards."

This goal does not only apply to athletics, but to every activity with championships. Literary has been excelling, state champions in 2022 and runners-up this year.

Benson's interest in athletics beyond his own sports serve him well.

He knows the unique environment of the GIAA — formerly the GISA — very well, both as a coach and a former Tiftarea player. Besides baseball, Benson also had a stint in charge of the Lady Panthers in softball.

Tiftarea has been excellent in a number of sports lately, especially the Lady Panthers. Over the past three seasons, softball and girls basketball earned state runner-up, with a semifinals appearance in soccer last year.

Football is poised to make plenty of noise this year. A late explosion by the Panthers sent them to the elite eight in football and nearly all of the team's core will be back on the gridiron this fall.

For the last couple of years, Erik Soliday's football teams have been young. "Now, they're going to be the ones with all of the experience," Benson said.

Soliday is someone Benson can bounce ideas off of, having spent many, many years as an athletic director himself. Rob Flick, who leads softball and boys basketball, has been Benson's assistant in baseball for several years as well.

"We're all very, very close," Benson said.

There will be a few coaching roles to fill for next year. He said he will soon approach those areas. In between school years, Benson said all the summer camps will return.

As Stevens prepares to depart and Benson to take over, Tiftarea is in the midst of improvements a brand new fieldhouse is under construction.

"We're adding another chapter to the history books," Benson said.