Best Friends: Shadle Park’s Chloe Flerchinger, Gonzaga Prep’s Bailey Benson, lifelong friends, teammates

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Chloe Flerchinger and Bailey Benson grew up doing just about everything together. Softball, volleyball, club sports, family outings – you name it.

The only thing they haven’t done together is go to the same high school.

Flerchinger was a two-sport star in her four years at Shadle Park; Benson was the same all over town at Gonzaga Prep.

Otherwise, the two are practically inseparable.

The couple met when they were young at a softball pitcher’s clinic. But it could be said that these two dynamic players, descendants of Spokane coaching families, were destined to become lifelong friends.

Bailey Benson is the daughter of former East Washington volleyball coach Wade Benson and Gonzaga Prep volleyball and softball coach Jill Benson. In addition, the Bensons operate the College Preparatory Academy volleyball club.

Chloe Flerchinger is the daughter of Kirsten (Lynn) Flerchinger, longtime coach of the Spokane Sliders and Mudhens fastpitch club teams, and granddaughter of Hall of Famer George Lynn, former Shadle coach and one of the driving inspirations of the Spokane club’s softball programs .

When Bailey was very young, the Benson family moved away from the area for a while. “When we came back,” Jill Benson said, “Bailey had just started softball, and we went to Steve Fountain’s Pitching Academy. Chloe had just started going there too.

“And that’s how they met and they kind of hit it off straight away.”

“One day our moms started talking and so we had nothing to do,” Chloe said. “So we started talking and all of a sudden we were playing together.”

“We were on opposing teams when we were at 10-U,” said Bailey Benson. “We pitched at the same place. And then our parents met once when I came to a session and she left hers. And then they met and then we all met and then we were instant best friends. And she’s still my best friend.”

Chloe then joined Benson’s Club’s volleyball program and the rest, as they say, is history.

“They’re like peas in a pod,” said Jill Benson. “Even though they are very different, they are so similar.”

“We’re pretty much always together,” said Flerchinger. “We haven’t seen each other that much (this year) but I know we’re going to spend the whole summer together and I’m really looking forward to it.”

They know each other better than they might know themselves.

“She has this sense of humor that nobody else would have,” Flerchinger said of Benson. “You have to know them to understand it. It doesn’t look like she’s funny from the outside, but her close friends know she is, and sometimes she doesn’t even think she’s funny, but she’s hilarious.”

“She’s very humble,” Benson said of Flerchinger. “And she’s always doing things for others and not enough for herself.”

Both players, who have learned from each other’s parents since their days at 10-U, have earned all league honors in both volleyball and softball.

“It’s amazing how in this day and age, when kids are being asked to specialize at a young age, I just want to see them as examples of kids who can (play multiple sports) and make it,” said Jill Bailey.

Since Shadle Park was reclassified to 2A, the two have not played each other since their freshman year in high school. No one will admit who defeated the other back then, but they agreed it was surreal.

“I feel like it was pretty even,” said Bailey Benson. “We both wanted to meet and were like, ‘Oh, you’re going to meet me. i will make a deal with you But we both wanted to see that the other was doing well.”

“We couldn’t stay serious,” said Flerchinger, “we always laughed and when one or the other did something, we just laughed our heads off.”

“Shadle has always asserted itself,” said Benson. “But it was super fun to play against them. Even when we played against each other, we still wanted the other to be (successful).”

Shadle Park is undefeated in the Greater Spokane League 2A ranks. With Flerchinger and Crimson Rice atop the hill and at the center of the order, the Highlanders aim high.

“I expect condition,” said Flerchinger. “I know we will be there but now I think this team has the ability to win the championship this year.”

“[Chloe]is such an impressive player and she was a dynamic player for us from the start when she was a freshman,” said Shadle Park coach Scott Kine.

“I think it’s really satisfying for them, hopefully finishing strong and having a chance to win a state title. ”

Meanwhile, the young bullpups are in the middle of the 4A/3A league ranking.

“We have two seniors and I feel like the team chemistry is really good this year,” said Bailey Benson.

“I’d say[Bailey]enjoys the fast pace of volleyball,” Jill Benson said, “but I think she excels[in softball]because it’s a craft. She loves volleyball and it is filled with joy. I would say that’s more personal.

“I think this year she excelled in volleyball in the leadership role, which is fascinating to see, you know, as a coach, you know, having a senior leader who’s also your kid who’s done a very good job.”

Once their high school careers wrap up, the lifelong friends will head in separate directions. Benson travels to Hawaii to play Division II Chaminade and Flerchinger signs with NAIA College of Idaho.

But distance will not separate them.

“I’m a little scared of it just because she’s been my best friend for so long, but it’s not like I could just go to Hawaii anytime soon,” said Flerchinger. “But I know it will still make us friends. Our friendship never ends.”

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