PARKER – When the Ponderosa community lost two student-athletes and their parents in a tragic car accident a decade ago, the school saw the potential for a memorial, and hope for a cure, in a grass-laden drainage ditch.
On that rugged parcel of land, adjacent to the varsity baseball field, is where Ponderosa would honor the Behn family. Jordan, the first baseman for the team that had just graduated, died in a head-on collision on August 1, 2010, near the Texas-Oklahoma border, along with his 15-year-old sister Morgan (a varsity softball player). . as well as parents Robert and Lisa.
Behn Family Field was built in 2011 out of the tragedy caused by the wrong drunk driver. The auxiliary turf infield, used by all levels of the high school program as well as local youth teams, has Jordan and Morgan's numbers stitched into the turf. And an archway at the entrance to the field serves as a reminder to the family that Parker lost that fateful August.
"The impact and healing of that field has been remarkable," said Ponderosa athletic director Tim Ottmann. "As you drive down Highway 83 and look, you can see it, so aesthetically it's been a major upgrade to our facility. And the design and structure itself is an enduring tribute to the Behn family and their contributions to our baseball program , our softball program and our school in general.
“Since the entire family passed away, they have been remembered daily and hourly during the baseball season regarding the impact they caused. There is always a lot of reflection and a lot of prayer in that field that we extend to the Behn family. "
Jordan, a two-year college incumbent who was headed to play at Lamar University in Texas, posthumously withdrew his number in 2011. A number 12 banner still hangs on the garden fence every spring. And in recent seasons, Ponderosa baseball coach Bob Mahoney has allowed a player at every level of the show to put it on.
Whoever has the honor of wearing No. 12 is a player who best represents the program on and off the field, as Jordan did.
"The kids really buy it, even though about 10 years have passed and not everyone who enters the program knows the Behn family," said Mahoney. “Every year, we try to instill in them what this field means and what it means for the community. We want those children to understand why we have their shirt hanging there and why certain children can wear their shirt. ”
The construction of the field cost around $ 75,000 and was mainly financed by a donation from Arrow Electronics, for whom Robert worked. After opening in 2011 the following year, Ponderosa completed phase two of the project with landscaping around the field and a walkway connecting the varsity diamond to the assistant.
Ponderosa also considered an indoor batting facility as another option to commemorate the family, but the sideboard turned out to be the best option from both a cost and legacy standpoint.
"I wanted something that would be there in 20 years with kids playing on it, and in 50 years, and this field will do it," said Jarod Nicholson, the Ponderosa baseball coach at the time and assistant principal at the school. "It is such a cultural piece of this program, so I am confident that future generations will have the same respect as the teams that first played."
First baseman / senior pitcher Ty Martens echoed Nicholson, noting that "it's the job of upper-class students to teach lower-class students who may not know history." Martens regularly practiced at Behn Family Field while playing youth baseball as a member of the Parker Colts.
"We want to honor the legacy of Jordan and Morgan, so every time someone enters Behn Family Field, we demand that players, coaches, and parents enter through the arch to respect Jordan and his family and what he means to us." said Martens, who wore No. 12 during the varsity varsity season this spring. "I yell at people every time they try to take a shortcut."
Ponderosa plans to bring back a commemorative Behns tournament that was organized every year from 2011 to 2017. It originally took place over the Father's Day weekend, but Mahoney wants to revive it as a fall event in 2021. In the meantime, the memory of Jordan, one of the best players on his team and a popular classmate, continues to feature prominently on the show.
"The most important legacy Jordan left us in Ponderosa is that winning is important, but choosing how you win is more important," said Martens. “Winning with class and integrity, as you did and would have liked now, means much more. That belief, and the field that represents it, is something that is extremely important to us at Ponderosa. "