Community remembers late coach through archery tournament


GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WLNS) – Hundreds of people made their way to Grand Ledge today for the first Benji Crowner Archery Classic Tournament. But for one Grand Ledge teen, the sport means much more.

The tournament was named in honor of Benji Crowner, a former Grand Ledge archery coach who lost his battle to cancer in January.

But to make sure his legacy lives on, his daughter along with the entire Grand Ledge community are coming together to play the sport in his name.

Archery is more than just a sport for McKenna Wischmeyer, it was a way to connect with one of the most important people in her life, her dad.

“Me and my dad like, it was our life,” said Wischmeyer.

Wischmeyer’s father, Benji Crowner, lost his life to cancer in January

“It was really hard for me at first, because this was our sport,” said Wischmeyer.

But now, Crowner’s love for the game lives on through the Benji Crowner Archery Classic Tournament in Grand Ledge.

It’s something that took Wischmeyer by surprise.

“I actually didn’t know until I got an email and it said Benji Crowner and I was like, oh that’s sweet,” said Wischmeyer.

Wischmeyer’s coach, Kelly Shaltry, helped bring the tournament to life.

“They lost one of their favorite coaches. He was always there to encourage the kids,” said Shaltry.

So he thought, along with other parents in the community: What better way to remember Crowner, than by doing so with the sport that he loved?

“We just wanted to memorialize him a little bit, because he was one of their favorite coaches,” said Shaltry.

Wischmeyer says having the tournament in her father’s name means a lot to her.

“I really appreciate it cause like I thought it was really sweet that they’d do that for me,” said Wischmeyer.

To see other kids learning and growing, through a sport that changed her life.

“I just hope to see it grow. You know, more kids coming,” said Wischmeyer.

She’s glad one of the most difficult times she went through turned into something positive not just for herself, but for the entire Grand Ledge archery community.

“It was hard but, having this tournament, it’s nice,” said Wischmeyer.

Wischmeyer and her coach say this tournament is just the beginning of a long future they’re planning not only to remember her father, but for archery in Grand Ledge.

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