Athletics Hall of Fame
Ed Smoker ’63
ED SMOKER was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022 for his achievements in football. Smoker was named All Conference for two years as a defensive back and standout tackler who repeatedly helped shut out opposing teams during the Coach Ken Mast era.
Described by Mast as “the best defensive back I ever coached,” Smoker played alongside fellow inductees Willis (Willie) Taylor ’58 and Elbert Dubenion ’59. He holds the record for most single-season interceptions in Bluffton history with nine.
Smoker graduated from Bluffton in 1963 with a business administration degree. He served as the purchasing manager of R.E. Jackson Company for 24 years and was the owner/operator of the Elkhart River Queen, which operates tours on the St. Joseph River in Elkhart, Ind. Currently, Smoker owns several properties in Elkhart, Ind. He is also active as a founding member of the Viking Ski Club of South Bend-Elkhart.
A resident of Elkhart, Ind., Smoker has four children: Jeff Smoker, Robb Smoker, Kimberly Cummings and Elizabeth Bevis.
Denny Phillips ’79
DENNY PHILLIPS was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022 for his achievements in coaching. Joining head football coach Carlin Carpenter’s staff as a strength and conditioning coach in 1988 in a voluntary capacity, Phillips was promoted to assistant coach the following year. He dedicated 25 years to Beavers football and completed his final season in 2013 as the defensive backs coach. He also served as the special teams coordinator. Phillips was the defensive backs and strength and conditioning coach when the team shared the HCAC championship in 2000, the only time Beavers football accomplished this in school history. He was previously inducted into the Hall of Fame with the 2000 team.
In 1992, Phillips began coaching Bluffton’s track and field team and served as head coach through the 1998 season. He led the Beavers to three AMC championships in his first four years as coach.
A 1979 Bluffton graduate with a major in health, physical education and recreation, Phillips was a four-year member of Bluffton’s men’s basketball team and served as co-captain in 1979. During his Bluffton coaching tenure, he was also a full-time teacher at Leipsic and Bluffton Elementary schools. He also coached football and track at the high school level. A resident of the Village of Bluffton, he coached many youth teams as well and is married to Kaye (Closson ’80) Phillips. They are parents to Adam (Sarah Hounshell ’12) Phillips ’10 and Justin Phillips and have a grandson.
Allison (Lange ’05) Bentley
One of the best hitters in Bluffton softball history, Allison (Lange ’05) Bentley was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022 for her individual achievements as a fouryear member of Bluffton’s softball team.
Bentley was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Louisville Slugger All-American (2nd team) and NFCA/Louisville Slugger All- American All-Region (1st Team) during the 2004 season when the team was ranked in the top 10 nationally in NCAA DIII for much of the year. She was also a two-time All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference 1st Team selection.
In 2004, she was nationally ranked 5th in slugging percentage, 6th in batting average and 18th in doubles. Bentley’s name is all over Bluffton softball’s records book including career records of 2nd with 39 doubles and 7th with a .355 batting average and single-season records such as 1st for both a .522 batting average and .600 on-base percentage. At one point, her name was listed 30 times in Bluffton’s record books. She was awarded The Kathryn E. Little Award in 2005 as Bluffton’s Outstanding Senior Female Athlete.
Bentley graduated in 2005 with a middle childhood education major and is currently a math/STEM/technology teacher at Archbold Middle School. She has coached a variety of high school, junior high and youth teams. A resident of Archbold, Ohio, she is married to Andrew Bentley ’05 and they have three< children, Anderson, Adelle, and Archer. Bentley was previously inducted with the 2004 softball team.