Big Grafton tight end Beau Benzschawel will uphold a family tradition by playing for the University of Wisconsin football team, just as his father and uncle did.
When the phone call came from the University of Wisconsin-Madison offering a football scholarship, Grafton Blackhawks standout Beau Benzschawel didn’t hesitate for a second.
“Ever since I was little, it’s been a dream of mine to become a Badger,” Beau said. “When Wisconsin contacted me, I knew where I was going to go. It wasn’t difficult to decide at that point.”
For a while, it looked like Beau was going to Syracuse University in New York. He made a verbal commitment to the team in early October and even acquired some Syracuse Orange apparel before UW came with its offer.
Beau could be stepping into his father Scott’s football cleats, but they’re too small. His father wears size 14 and his are size 16. His father was a nose guard for the Badgers from 1983 to 1988.
Beau’s uncle Eric Benzschawel played football for the Badgers in 1989, but his career was cut short by a shoulder injury.
Although Scott said he didn’t put any pressure on his son, it’s clear he and the entire family is happy Beau is a Badger.
“My advice is to get a good education,” Scott said. “Football doesn’t last forever. Very few make it on to the next level.
“Be a good student, play hard and have fun.”
Beau’s brothers Luke, 16, and J.P., 10, said they want to follow their brother to Madison.
Beau, a four-year varsity starter for the Grafton Blackhawks as a tight end and defensive end, comes from a family of athletes and UW-Madison alumni.
His parents met at UW, where his mother, the former Barbara “Barcie” Morgen was an engineering student.
“I was on the dance team (in high school), but they say that doesn’t count,” Barcie said.
Although not a Badger, Beau’s grandfather Arthur Benzschawel played football at Northland College in Ashland.
His aunt Jane Benzschawel played basketball at Edgewood College in Madison and graduated from UW’s law school. She now lives in Australia and her son plays rugby.
Beau’s sister Abbey, who is 6 feet, 1 inch and led her Blackhawks basketball team to state tournaments, is a junior at Madison but no longer plays competitive sports.
Rounding out the alumni connection are Barcie’s father, her three sisters and their spouses. Her mother went to another college but cheers for the Badgers, Barcie said.
Having three members of a family play for the same Big Ten football team is highly unusual, but this is no ordinary football family. They are BIG Badger fans in every way, including body size.
Beau is 6-6 and weighs 250 pounds. UW coaches want him to put on weight to be an offensive tackle.
Scott is 6-8 and 325 pounds, the same weight as when he played for the Badgers. He has been the Grafton High assistant offensive coach for four years and coached his sons’ Gladiators youth football teams.
Luke, a sophomore left tackle, is 6-6, 220 pounds and is looking forward to not playing with his brother next year.
“He wanted to drive me into the ground at every practice,” Luke said.
“I wanted to tell him who was boss. But in games, I just wanted him to be better,” Beau said.
Beau and Luke are also on the varsity basketball and baseball teams.
J.P., a fifth-grader at Grafton Elementary School, is already 5-7, 130 pounds and plays Gladiators youth football.
He also plays on select baseball and basketball teams, traveling throughout the Midwest with both sports, just as his brothers did.
The sport the boys don’t play is soccer, which coincides with the football season.
“Soccer is a swear word in our house,” Scott said.
Scott, who owns Big 10 Heating and Air Conditioning in Grafton, schedules his work around his coaching schedule and Badger games.
Beau’s been going to Badger football games since he was a kid. His grandmother has season tickets on the 50-yard line that she inherited from her husband and gives to his family.
Barcie, the shortest family member at 5-8, gets everyone where they’re supposed to be. She also teaches engineering classes in interior computer-aided design at Milwaukee Area Technical College in Milwaukee and West Bend.
Feeding her big guys is a challenge, she said.
“I have no idea how much I spend on food,” she said. “I stop at the store all the time. I don’t like to keep track of it.”
Scott estimated their grocery bills are between $300 and $500 a week, which he expects to decrease when Beau heads to Madison next summer for training.
Their oldest son polishes off a pound of bacon and six eggs for breakfast.
“We eat tons and tons of frozen pizzas and lots of chicken and pasta,” Barcie said.
The guys are avid deer hunters, so the family eats more venison than beef, she said, including venison sausage, roasts and burgers. The family also loves to fish, especially for bluegills and walleyes, which they eat fresh or freeze.
You would think the main topic of conversation at the Benzschawel home would be football.
“No, it’s hunting and fishing,” Beau said, “especially at this time of year.”
They hunt deer during the archery and gun seasons, as well as waterfowl.
Image Information: Badger recruit Beau Benzschawel with (from left) his brother J.P., a fifth-grader, mother Barcie, father Scott and brother Luke, a sophomore. Photo by Sam Arendt