Editor’s note: This is the second in a multipart series following athletes and their families who are hoping sports will offer a pathway into higher education. Last week, The Guam Daily Post spoke with golf’s Markus Nanpei. In this week’s story, the Post reached out to the Hendersons, former Guam residents who have moved to Wisconsin., but who are still vying for a path to college.
Prior to moving out to Wisconsin in 2019, the Henderson family, led by mom and dad Courtney and Jason, were a mainstay at island gyms, zipping from Yigo for Tamarrein to Astumbo for Tavaryies and then Harmon Complex for Taneea on a Saturday.
Jason Henderson admits to being a stickler for getting his kids as much playing time as possible, rocking out in the Sinajana Youth League, the Guam Youth Basketball League and Elite tournaments.
His eye on a bigger prize, Jason Henderson studied the game, ensuring his children put in the work – running miles, lifting weights, working on their agility, improving their ballhandling and getting shots up.
Prior to every game, they’d set up their cameras on opposing sides of the court for their children – especially Tamarrein and Taneea – to showcase their growth, their defense and their offense.
Realizing sports could open a door to education, Jason Henderson put in the work himself, taking his children to the gym to put in as many hours on the court as they did in their studies.
It was crucial, he said, that his children embody the work ethic needed to thrive in any environment.
“A great work ethic is important, so is a great education,” he said. “It’s important that we as parents try to get all our kids in school either academically or athletically.”
They’ve since moved stateside to Wisconsin with Tamarrein finding his groove in high school ball and the younger Tavaryies enjoying the camaraderie that comes with athletics. Taneea, a junior in high school, has made the biggest impact, ranking at No. 13 on one of the state lists and drawing interest from colleges. She recently completed a workout session for Minnesota State University-Moorhead, a Division II program.
Harnessing social media
Harnessing the power of YouTube and Instagram, Jason Henderson created a channel, sharing highlight reels in an effort to draw interest.
Moving to Wisconsin amid the COVID-19 pandemic meant more discipline for the older Henderson kids. It was important that they stick to their training schedule because they travel often for competition.
“A lot of physical on the ball training, conditioning, ballhandling, man-to-man defense and shooting,” Jason Henderson said. “The training schedule is tough. Sometimes, we travel three times a week to go work out with different people, and we have them set their own goals.”
Parental involvement is key, Jason Henderson said, adding that the family members did their research, reaching out to AAU coaches and reputable organizations in the Wisconsin area. From there, they attended camps and events to gain competition and exposure.
"We believe that if you’re good enough, college coaches will find you,” he said.
Grades, grades and more grades
But, the physical aspects aside, Jason Henderson emphasized the importance of his kids staying on top of their studies.
“Be involved in all aspects,” he said. “A great jump shot alone won’t get them there, but a good GPA will. … Opportunity starts with good grades and a great attitude, no matter what sport you play, listen to the teachers and coaches and work hard on being the best student-athlete.”
It isn’t easy. Like other parents The Guam Daily Post spoke to, Jason Henderson said there are sacrifices that everybody has to make to ensure success.
“I give up a lot of my time,” Jason Henderson said. “I feel like my kids are my greatest achievement. … If I show them I’m willing to put everything into helping them (studies and basketball), that will in turn build them into being responsible adults.”
For Jason Henderson, getting a college education is key to success. If basketball will get them there, he will do what he needs to do to ensure his kids are physically and academically ready to succeed.
To that end, he has put his kids in camps, trains them daily and emphasizes the importance of discipline, hard work and education.
If they don’t get a scholarship, but they develop the work ethic to succeed, Henderson said, he will be happy with their outcome.
“Playing basketball has so many life lessons – the ups, the downs – all of this helps them build for being an adult,” he said. “(It) teaches them that sometimes you’re going to work hard, and still lose.”
The life isn’t for everyone, he admits, adding it’s hard work, but the end result is worth the effort.
“There are a lot of kids out there in my culture without a father in the home that wish they had someone to push them and support them in school,” he said. “Sports life is hard, and this is a tool to start them in the right direction.”