Scholarship honors Scappoose athlete who died in crash
Lisa Marshall will always remember May 28, 2020, as the day when her son, Chris Bendle, a Scappoose High School and Portland Community College basketball player, died in a car crash outside of town.
That afternoon crash on Scappoose-Vernonia Highway near Pond Drive stunned the community and left local sports-lovers, in particular, reeling. Bendle, 20, was a well-known athlete and well-liked student at Scappoose who had just graduated two years prior to his death.
Now, two years later, Bendle's legacy lives on in the sport he loved.
As a way to turn a day that represented sadness into a day of hope, Marshall told the Spotlight, three student athletes will be receiving the Chris Bendle Basketball Scholarship on May 28 at the Portland Community College Cascade Campus in Portland.
The scholarship recipients, whose names have not been announced, plan on playing basketball for the Panthers.
"These are the first athletes that are going to be the recipients of the Chris Bendle Basketball Scholarship," Marshall said.
The idea "is to make that day that was once the worst day of your life to be something very positive for not just the athletes, but also for us," as she put it.
Bendle's sports history is known by many in Scappoose and surrounding areas.
"Basketball was his love," Marshall said. "He went all the way through Kiwanis, and in high school, he had done some AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball with coaches in Castle Rock. He really honed his skills. The AAU program was just an awesome program for him."
This scholarship announcement, in which recipients will receive $1,500 each, will be a first for Marshall.
"Obviously, May 28 is a sad day for us," she said. "That's the last day that we saw him. Obviously, we knew basketball was our life. We wanted to do something that would honor him futurewise, and also keep his memory alive for the people of Scappoose and Columbia County."
Marshall continued, "All of our lives move on. We want him remembered."
While all three scholarship recipients this year are from Australia, Marshall said she looks first to those athletes in Scappoose, where Bendle lived.
"It just happens, just because of who applied, that the students are Portland Community College players," Marshall said, noting that people who apply from Columbia County are looked at first. "But if there are not Columbia County athletes that have applied for basketball, then we go outside of that, depending on who applies."
While she is pleased with the students from Australia who are being honored, Marshall said, "I was really hoping that we were going to get young people from Columbia County, but it didn't happen that way."
Marshall noted an influx of Australian players to PCC.
"This last year, there were several players who were from Australia who came to Portland Community College to play basketball," Marshall said. "We had other people apply, but they weren't basketball players. That's the criteria. You have to be a 3.0 or above student and be playing basketball for college."
Marshall hopes the scholarship will bring hope to athletes.
"We hope that by doing this, and giving back to student athletes in basketball, that something positive will happen with them too, not just basketball but in life itself," Marshall said. "We're looking for those athletes that are like Christopher in the fact that they give back to the community and really work hard striving for excellence."
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