2009 Sparty Winner: Sports Writing

As time gets closer and closer for the game to start, 105 eager Spartans are in the locker room preparing for battle. Some players will get ready by listening to music by artists such as Young Jeezy, Nas, Lil’ Wayne and 50 Cent. One Spartan, however has found a different inspiration.

Senior cornerback Ashton Henderson’s music choice has a different beat.

“I listen to gospel music because it relaxes me, prepares me and it is all positive,” Henderson said.

Henderson has taken pride in his faith and his relationship with God and isn’t afraid to tell anyone how big faith plays a role in his life.

“Gospel is a major influence in my life,” said Henderson. “I was raised in church and God brought me to Michigan State for a reason. It brings peace to me and I give all thanks to God.”

Not only does his music show what type of man Henderson is, but he also shows it with his heart. Henderson is constantly giving back to the community, showing others his values as a person.

“I visit schools throughout the year and I am pen pals with children across Michigan,” Henderson said.

His relationship with school children gives him a connection and a way to give back. This hard work has gotten some of his teammate’s attention.

“Last week, he brought a bunch of kids to the practice field to show them what practice is like,” placekicker Dan Conroy said. “He knew each kid by their first name. It just shows how great a person and how great of a leader he is on the team.”

Even though Henderson isn’t the only one who gives back on the team, defensive end Michael Jordan appreciates Henderson’s outstanding work.
“Ashton is very committed and very active in the community,” Jordan said.

Because of the nature of athletes, Jordan said he and Henderson are having a competition to see who can reach out to the community more. Jordan is hoping to get the victory.

“I don’t know who will win but hopefully it’ll be me,” Jordan said with a chuckle.

Not only is Henderson’s big heart shown throughout the community, it is shown to teammates. He has an affinity for those new to the program, and freshman guard Micajah Reynolds said he was impressed with Henderson the very first day.

“[Ashton] was one of the first guys who came up to me and made me feel welcome,” Reynolds said. “He’s a great guy and a good teammate.”

Last season, Henderson missed most of the games with groin and hamstring injuries. Even though he was down physically, he kept a positive mental outlook.

“It was tough but everything happens for a reason,” he said. “It gives me another opportunity and to make it happen this year.”

During spring drills, Henderson sprained the MCL in his knee. Right now, he feels he is 100 percent healthy, and he has many goals for the upcoming season.

“I want to contribute and be the best I can be,” said Henderson. “I want to push my teammates to their full potential.”

One of his goals, Henderson said, it to get his first college career interception.

“My goal is to get one interception this year and hopefully more to come,” Henderson said with a smile.

As for team goals, Henderson said he shares one with 104 others: they would all like to bring a championship back to East Lansing.
“Our goal is to go and win the Big Ten Championship,” said Henderson. “We were close to doing it last year, and we feel like we can do it this year.”

Unlike other college football players, Henderson has thought about his future and he can already see past his playing days. He would like to pursue a career in the NFL, but his dream job is a little different.

“I want to be a general manager for an NFL team,” Henderson said. “It’s been my dream. I want to make decisions, impact lives and be a positive influence for other people.”

To attain this goal, Henderson won’t have to travel very far, his teammates said. They believe he has the tools to be a general manager and succeed.

“He definitely has the qualification to be a general manager or owner. He has the right mind set,” Reynolds said.

Jordan agrees, and also believes Henderson will be successful.

“Ashton would be a people-person general manager,” said Jordan. “He is very social and no one dislikes him. He would make a great GM.”

– Written by Jerry Eastwood of Haslett High School

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