Ebheni Henderson (10) shows Alexis Miller (9) proper throwing form for discus. Photo by Lauren Breach
“There was this girl, and she was just a beautiful thrower. Sometimes when I was supposed to be throwing I just stood there and stared at her. I said ‘Someday, I’m going to do that.’”
Since sophomore Ebheni Henderson’s first throwing practice in seventh grade, she has worked to build upon her skills with every track season.
“Freshman year I was nervous, I was nervous all the time. I was competing with seniors,” Henderson says. “But then I watched them and I thought ‘I’m past that, I’m past that,’ and if she was really good I said ‘She’s good, but I can do that, I can do that.’”
Henderson spent her early seasons watching the best and more experienced throwers in the district, and mimicked their techniques.
“I know at the first meet I was looking at the state champ and it was just beautiful. I recorded her and I just binge watched it over and over.”
As she progressed through middle school track seasons, Henderson continued to look for other ways to improve, outside and inside of school.
“I watched a lot of videos and I was doing what they did in the videos, I was doing certain stretches and different workouts. I’ve done a lot to improve, and I think I’ve seen the results,” Henderson said.
And last year, she did see positive results. Henderson won the district championship in the shotput, throwing 38.11 feet. She then went on to place 5th in the Area competition.
When asked about her throwing career thus far, Henderson keeps a humble front, much to the amusement of her fellow teammates listening in. She acts as a role model in throwing to the less experienced throwers.
“You know you’re good when you can throw kind of like Ebheni,” freshman thrower Alexis Miller says with a laugh.
Junior thrower Tyler Smith agrees. “Being on the team with Ebheni is really a learning experience because she’s really good at shotput and she helps me want to become a better thrower.”
Henderson and Smith demonstrate their skills and help throwing coach Maura Cosgrove teach the beginners proper form.
“Ebheni and Tyler, I call them my assistant coaches,” says Cosgrove. “I’m new to throwing. Ebheni and Tyler’s skills and being able to demonstrate and all of that kind of stuff helps me tremendously. They lead the team and set the standards.”
Cosgrove sees a lot of potential for Henderson to go even further than district champion this year, and potentially even receive a Division One scholarship for throwing in college.
“Obviously, our expectations are very high for Ebheni… she has the ability already to win district again,” Cosgrove says. “Realistically, if she continues to throw how she has been throwing, she might be able to make the top two in region and go on to state, which would be unheard of, and a first for a shotput thrower here at Ann Richards.”
Since November, Henderson has been working with a trainer who participated in the Olympic trials to improve her form, especially in discus.
“She broke me down. She said ‘You’re doing this wrong and you’re doing this wrong,’ and so I started doing all of these things and I was just like ‘Oh, this is so uncomfortable,’ but now it’s drilled into me,” Henderson says. “I don’t think about how to do it anymore, I just do it.”
Although Ebheni is already an accomplished thrower, she believes that she will always have room for improvement.
“I don’t think of myself as the best thrower. There is always someone better than me, in life there is always someone better than me….The best is someone who has no more improvements to make, and I have plenty to make,” Henderson says.
Henderson will continue to throw throughout her high school career, and possibly into college. Above all, Henderson looks forward to track season every year because it gives her the opportunity to do what she is passionate about.
“I just look forward to this, it’s doing something I like to do and I’m good at. Like in the middle of volleyball season I said, ‘I can’t wait for track season!’ I kinda don’t ever want track to end. It just pulls me, it motivates me to do great all the time.”