WILMINGTON — With some students not quite ready for the workforce after graduating from college, it’s always good to see ambitious achievers doing what it takes to not only sustain a steady job right after school, but to do so in a capacity they have passion for.
For Coastal Christian High School alum Hunter Henderson, the road less taken for many college graduates has him poised to enjoy what could be a special season for the UNCW men’s basketball team after being named to the Seahawk staff by third-year Head Coach Kevin Keatts. Henderson will serve as Director of Men’s Basketball Video Operations.
While previous experiences definitely helped the 2011 Coastal Christian graduate get the job on campus, his journey back home to Wilmington began several years ago when first serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, while attending Cape Fear Community College.
With knowledge in hand, Henderson transferred to North Carolina State where he became manager for three years with the Wolfpack men’s basketball team under Coach Mark Gottfried.
The process to get a job with the basketball program at N.C. State started with several emails and phone calls to the Wolfpack staff even before he was officially enrolled at the university. Upon arrival, Henderson joined the Wolfpack as a graduate assistant, rising to head manager in May of 2015. He worked as North Carolina State’s assistant video coordinator last year, assisting the Wolfpack coaching staff with video for scouting opponents.
“About a year before I even got into N.C. State, I started to get in touch with their staff after calling for months, being persistent with it and then started to learn the process of what it would take to get involved once I was accepted,” Henderson said.
“The biggest advice I can give to high school students and students in college is if you have a passion for something you need to be persistent with it. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it. Work your hardest. Hard work goes a long way.” — Hunter Henderson
Over the summer, Henderson worked locally as an intern for the Wilmington Sharks and quickly started to foster local ties with Keatts. He helped get the UNCW basketball chief to throw out the first-pitch prior to a Sharks’ home game and the relationship soon developed.
Now back in his hometown full-time, Henderson is excited about the upcoming opportunity to work for Keatts, a two-time Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year. The Seahawks have enjoyed immediate success since Keatts took over, with two straight CAA Regular Season Championships to go along with an NCAA Tournament appearance last season.
“When Coach Keatts got here, I made a relationship with him, actually helped get him to throw out the first pitch at the Sharks game where I was interning,” he said. “About a year ago, I was looking to become a graduate assistant. Arrived at UNCW in May of last year and the opportunity became available.
“Coach is such a good person. He’s someone you want to learn from and happy to be apart of his staff,” he added.
With a ton of experience already under his belt from his time in Raleigh, Henderson is already hard at work on the local campus in what he hopes to be a long career doing something he loves. Eventually, he would like to become a Director of Basketball Operations and assistant coach for a division one program. He hopes his aspirations one day will lead to a head coaching job; that is one of his long-term career goals.
“The biggest advice I can give to high school students and students in college is, if you have a passion for something you need to be persistent with it. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it. Work your hardest,” he said. “Hard work goes a long way.”
From the apparent spirit, desire and determination he has to go along with a talent he continues to craft, Henderson is on the long road to success. But, in the meantime, he’s willing to do what needs to be done in order to get there.
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