Aug. 11, 2017

Arsenal Tech Coach Anthony Henderson

LEADING THE PACK — Anthony Henderson, head varsity football coach at Arsenal Technical High School, believes that developing the character is just as important as developing  athletic talent. Below, Henderson takes time during practice to consult with a student.

In his sixth year as head varsity football coach at Arsenal Technical High School, Anthony Henderson has created a new attitude and culture within his program — one that’s inspiring his players to become great on and off the football field.

Arsenal Tech head varsity football coach Anthony Henderson

“I will do everything to make sure that I put them in a position that gets them through college, becoming a good father or getting a second chance. That’s what I’m about,” said Henderson, whose team takes on Center Grove High School in a scrimmage game at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at Center Grove.

This new team journey has been an uphill battle at times, but Henderson is no stranger to hard work. Once a highly recruited athlete, the North Central High School alumnus was a defensive lineman for the University of Michigan and played in the Arena Football League (AFL) from 1996 until 2004. As a husband and father of two, he prides himself on prioritizing family values and accountability within his coaching methods by serving as a positive role model for his young players.

“He just helps you become a better person,” said Jaylen W., a defensive linebacker and one of the captains for Arsenal Tech’s football team. “He’s always been behind me as much as my family has, and has always been there for me when I need him. I can text or call him whenever, and he answers.”

The love Henderson has for his players speaks to the high standards he expects them to meet. His job has become more than just maintaining the role of a coach, and it shows in the way he holds each of his team members accountable for their actions.

Since Henderson took over the football program in 2011, he has centered the team’s foundation on more than just winning football games by consistently stressing the importance of responsibility in their academic endeavors and personal lives.

“The main thing I preach is to just be responsible. I want them to understand that there are positive consequences for every positive decision made and negative consequences for every negative decision,” said Henderson. “And when they’re responsible in life, I’ve found that they become responsible in their sport … and that’s when you start to win football games.”

Winning is definitely on Henderson’s radar for this year’s season, and the level of competitiveness he expects from his team has been made very clear. After a less than stellar past three seasons, Henderson has high hopes for the future of Arsenal Tech football.

“If we’re competitive for a quarter, it carries into the next one, and the next,” said Henderson. “Our No. 1 goal is to win our conference. Our No. 2 goal is to win a sectional game, because within the past three years, we’ve been 0-3. Hopefully if we can get two wins, we’ll win our sectional.”

Regardless of Arsenal Tech’s record at the end of each season, Henderson’s most important indicator of success is the growth he sees within each of his players. For him, football has simply been the tool used to help him mold future men of honor and respect.

As a longtime football coach, Henderson has seen the fruits of his labor. He’s had the privilege of seeing some of his former players strive in various endeavors — in part because of his impact on their lives — something that has continued to fuel his passion for coaching and providing mentorship to his players.

“I’ll do what it takes to make sure 10 to 15 years down the line that when (they) walk back through my door, they walk through as grown men,” said Henderson.

Arsenal Tech opens its football season with a home game against Ben Davis at 7 p.m. Aug. 18.