Henderson puts her name on dotted Rider line

  • Mohawk field hockey player Kesheal Henderson signs her National Letter of Intent to attend Rider College with Warrior coach Lynn Hoeppner looking on Monday in Buckland.<br/>Recorder/Jason Butynski

    Mohawk field hockey player Kesheal Henderson signs her National Letter of Intent to attend Rider College with Warrior coach Lynn Hoeppner looking on Monday in Buckland.
    Recorder/Jason Butynski

  • Mohawk field hockey player Kesheal Henderson signs her National Letter of Intent to attend Rider College with Warrior coach Lynn Hoeppner looking on Monday in Buckland.<br/>Recorder/Jason Butynski

BUCKLAND — Kesheal Henderson will trade in her Warrior garb this fall for some Broncs wear.

The Mohawk Trail Regional High School senior field hockey player sat in front of no less than 100 of her family and friends on Monday afternoon and signed her National Letter of Intent to play at Division I Rider University this fall.

The letter-signing ceremony took place at the school and Henderson, sporting a Rider hat, is now officially a Bronc, and will receive nearly a full scholarship to attend the Lawrence Township, N.J., school this fall. Henderson said she is excited for the opportunity to play a Division I sport, and was all smiles while discussing her future.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m also a little bit nervous. A lot of girls get homesick their first year. But I’m excited and I’m eager to start working out.”

The decision to attend Rider is something that Henderson has known about for a while. She first connected with the Rider coach while playing for her club team at the National Future Championships during her sophomore season. She was approached by a woman at that event and told that the Rider coaches — husband-and-wife tandem Lori and Dan Hussong — were watching her and were interested. Henderson had contacted a number of other colleges at that time, but after visiting the Rider campus, she verbally committed to the school in the fall of her junior year. She said that she had not heard back from other schools prior to her verbal commitment, but after that, she began to get interest from other programs. Despite the offers, she remained true to her word, and said that she only second-guessed her decision once, but knows that she made the right choice to attend Rider.

“I knew I made the right choice,” she explained. “I visited the campus and I connected with the team. I met a lot of the girls on the team and they treated me like I was family.”

Henderson also acknowledged the hard work done by Mohawk coach Lynn Hoeppner, who also runs Element Athletics, which runs the club programs that Henderson plays on outside the fall high school season. Hoeppner, one of the prominent field hockey coaches in Western Mass., said that she spoke with the Rider coaches, and feels like Henderson’s style of play will fit perfectly on the team.

“They are a fast team and Kesheal fits that perfectly,” Hoeppner said. “I think that after talking with Dan and Lori, they’ve come to appreciate not only what Kesheal can do skill-wise, but also the joy and passion she exudes when she plays. That’s the thing that really struck them. And my mom and dad come to all of our home games and they tell me that too. She loves playing the game.”

Rider is no slouch on the field hockey scene. The team, which plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is a perennial contender for the league title. The Broncs went into the 2013 MAAC tournament as the top seed, but were upset, 1-0, by fourth-seeded Robert Morris. In 2012, Rider made the NCAA tournament and took on UMass in a play-in game, won by the Minutewomen 2-1. That marked the third straight year that Rider lost in the NCAA play-in game. Rider has won at least 13 games in six straight seasons and is 93-28 in that span.

Henderson is finishing up the indoor track season (she will attend the state meet on Wednesday and compete in the shot put, 300 and relay), and will then compete on Mohawk’s outdoor track & field team in the spring. She plans on attending summer classes at Rider this summer, and plans to major in business administration.

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