Former Guam resident Taneea Henderson, Class of 2023, recently committed to Minnesota State University Moorhead, an NCAA Division II college competing as a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
For those who watched Henderson on the island’s courts, the commitment to the school comes as no surprise. Even as a middle schooler, Henderson demonstrated all the traits of a special athlete – committed, coachable and driven to succeed.
A junior at Sparta High School in Wisconsin, Henderson has carved a place for herself on the varsity roster, earning several player of the game nods and eventually ranking No. 2 in the state by MaxPreps.
In October, Henderson went out to MSUM and participated in a workout while getting to know the coaches.
The weekend turned out to be a good one, Henderson said, adding the recruitment process can be very daunting, but it helps to face a good coaching crew.
“The coach staff, Coach (Karla) Nelson were very transparent about who she is as a coach and what she expects out of her players,” Henderson said, adding the “campus was very friendly and the class sizes are small enough to learn and get the help if I needed it.”
Henderson, who earns As on the average, said it was important to find a school that fit her academic needs.
The junior said she loves science and is hoping to take up zoology as a major at MSUM.
“The big thing is that I will not have to get any student loans to pay for my education," Henderson said. “The recruiting process can be overwhelming, at times. I love how they’re interested in me, not just as an athlete but as a person.”
In her junior season at Sparta, Henderson said, things had been going well, but like most things, COVID-19 cut the season short.
The team had made it into the second round of the playoffs before events were shut down.
Henderson stays philosophical, seeing every game as a learning experience regardless of win or loss.
“I really don't feel like I have bad games, just sometimes, the outcome isn't what I like it to be,” she said. And when things get chaotic, her ability to hit zen is admirable and indicative of the athlete she is.
“I just try to think about what my coach wants, and breathe during tough situations,” she said.
For now, the junior knows she can’t rest on her laurels. The commitment to MSUM is a huge accomplishment, but it just one of many steps in her lifelong journey.
So, Henderson will go back to what she does best, working hard and trusting the process to take her places.
Keeping her grades up and honing her skills, while enjoying life with a fantastic family is next on the agenda.
“It's been good,” she said. “We're all just working hard on keeping my grades up though COVID-19 with only going to school for two days a week.”
And, like any athlete who has the world at her fingertips, Henderson said the journey and the accomplishments are the work of a team. She thanked her family and coaches for building a positive place and helping her get where she needs to be.