HENDERSON NOT YOUR AVERAGE ROOKIE
7/6/11 12:00 AM
By Craig Rybczynski - July 6, 2011
As part of the holiday week, the Hamilton Nationals are featuring players that are members of Canada’s pro field lacrosse team on the weekends and part of America’s team during the week. Today, the Nats talked with rookie defenseman and Army product Bill Henderson.
The Tully, NY, native recently completed his college career at West Point where he was a two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and All-Patriot League First Team selection. He took a moment to reflect on the beginning of his professional lacrosse career and gave an update on his military service.
In high school, Henderson played for current Nationals defenseman Sol Bliss. It was then that the 20 year old decided to attend the United States Military Academy.
“I originally wanted to join because of the opportunities after graduating, but quickly realized that being there was a lot more than just about your opportunities,” he said.
He ended his splendid career at Army in 2011 as the first ever two-time team captain in Army history. He appeared in 57 games over his four-year stint and was a member of the Army team that knocked off two-time defending national champion Syracuse in the 2010 NCAA Playoffs. In 2010, he garnered Honorable Mention All-American honors and was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. He also was awarded the team's Jack Rust Defensive MVP. Just one month removed from his college lacrosse playing days, Henderson already misses the camaraderie.
“I think the thing I'm going to miss most about West Point is the friendships you make. You spend so much time with guys on the team that you become very close with them and it’s going to be weird not seeing them as much,” he said.
One West Pointer that Henderson sees every week is Army teammate Jeremy Boltus, who is also a rookie for the Nationals. The cadets are part of a youth movement in Hamilton that includes first-year pros Kevin Crowley, Kevin Ridgway, Tyler Burton, David Earl, Dan Burns, Joe Marra, Jarrett Davis, Jeremy Thompson and Matt Dolente. Henderson has played in three games, including two of the last three wins.
“The MLL has been great. The players, coaches and experience have been nothing short of amazing. I couldn't have asked to play with a better group of guys,” said Henderson. “We have some great veteran players that have already taught me a lot and some new guys that have helped make me feel right at home in Hamilton.”
While the MLL breaks for the MLL All-Star Weekend (July 8-9), Henderson will enjoy his time away from the lacrosse field. He will also pack to travel to his newest post as part of his military service.
“Right now, I'm headed to Oklahoma for five months of basic officer school then I will spend the spring semester as an intern with the army lacrosse team,” he said. “Hopefully, I can continue to play professionally as well.”
The Nationals would love to have Henderson in the lineup as they make their second-half push with a 4-3 record a tie for third place. For now, he will continue to travel to home games in Hamilton and road games during the playoff run. Back in Oklahoma, he will don the uniform of the US Army and prepare for the next stage of his professional military career. The Fourth of July has special meaning to Henderson and all those who protect our nation.
“I think the holiday is special for those who serve because they understand the daily sacrifices that soldiers and their families go through in order to keep the rest of us safe,” he said. “The most impressive thing about the Fourth of July at West Point wasn't any of the celebrations or concerts, but knowing that your friends and former teammates are overseas risking their lives for our freedom.”