Remembering Ben

Remembering Ben

The No. 40 jersey on the Washburn football team will always be remembered as that of Ben Muir’s. Muir, an Ichabod defensive end who was to be one of 16 seniors on this year’s team, passed away Saturday, March 7, following a single vehicle accident south of Topeka. After that tragedy, it appeared his jersey would go unworn this season. But the large group of seniors that make up the Ichabod team weren’t going to have it.

During every home and away Ichabod football game this season, the No. 40 jersey will be worn by a Washburn senior to honor Muir. While the order was picked by the seniors themselves, and there are more seniors than regular season games, head coach Craig Schurig hopes that the team can keep playing until every senior has their chance to wear No. 40.

“Being in our program for the length of time that he was, he was real close to coaches and players, so we felt like that would be a fitting tribute to him,” said Schurig, who coached Muir his entire time at Washburn.

Schurig said the idea came from the University of Missouri, who honored a player on the team who passed away while working out by wearing his jersey all season.

Other ways Muir is being honored is through his locker, which as Schurig said, remains unoccupied with his name still donning it. The team also plans to honor Muir’s presence at Senior Day on Saturday, Oct. 31, versus Truman State with his family in attendance.

“We have a really close group, close team,” said Schurig. “All the players got to know Ben really well, but the seniors are extra close to him. I think together, they talked about just dedicating the season towards that and making Ben a part of the team even though he’s here in spirit. So I think they’ve handled it really well. And we want him to kind of be a part of our senior season.”

Fellow senior, fullback Brad Haug, knew Muir really well, getting close to him while rooming together their freshman year and being on the team with him all these years. Haug has the honor of wearing Muir’s jersey on Senior Day. When he heard the news of Muir’s passing, he said it hit him and the team hard, but also made them realize what they had in Muir as a teammate and a friend.

“It definitely hurt when we found out,” said Haug. “Just everybody pulling together and just seeing how much it affected everybody just kind of brought us closer together. You could just see the pain. We all felt the same way because he was a big part of this team.

“He’s just a great guy…We want to keep him with us as long as we can.”

Bill Boyer, a junior offensive lineman, said that Muir’s passing now motivates the team to go as hard as Muir did when he played and to give it their best shot. “It’s pushing everybody to strive to be like that,” Boyer said.

“The biggest thing is you want to commemorate something towards him and everybody on this team loved the kid,” Boyer said. So I think it’s a good honor for him. It really is. His family will realize he was part of the team. And his family was part of our team so that’s one of the reasons why we’re still wearing [the jersey].”