Businesses were lining up to support Hazel Green High School volleyball, and that was before the Trojans won a state championship in 2016.
Name: Jeff Henderson
Background: Henderson took an unusual route to calling the Huntsville area home, having been born in Hawaii (his dad trained K9s in the Marine Corps). He moved to Alabama with his family when he was still a kid, attended Lee High School in Huntsville and a local community college before earning an online degree in information technology from Capella University. Henderson works in IT for Northrop Grumman, and his wife, Jean, is a science teacher and the junior varsity volleyball coach at Hazel Green High School north of Huntsville. The Hendersons have two daughters, Michaela and Kylie, and both grew starting with softball as their primary sport before switching to volleyball. “They liked volleyball much better,” Henderson said. “I became a bleacher dad instead of a coach, and mom got involved.”
What he does: As interest in Hazel Green’s volleyball program has surged, so has the number of businesses contributing money as sponsors. Typically, those sponsors are showcased on a poster emblazoned with team photo. “The last few years we have had so many ads we had to have two posters,” Henderson said. “We were looking for another way to showcase our sponsors, and that’s where SportsEngine came in. You can only make so many posters. With the website we were able to give our sponsors another avenue to give them a bang for their marketing dollar.” Henderson got the site up and running last year, just in time for the team to win a state championship in Class 6A, the second largest classification in the state (Hazel Green has an enrollment of about 1,421 students in grades 9 through 12). This year, with Kylie, a sophomore, playing as a defensive specialist, the Trojans reached the quarterfinals of the 6A North Super Regional.
Making his mark: Having already had one standout player go through the Hazel Green program (Michaela is a sophomore playing at the University of Montevallo), Henderson is well-schooled in the art of making highlight videos geared for college coaches. To that end, he has helped set up players with the ability to create their own recruiting videos, and he provides direct links to those videos on the team page on the site.
Fun fact: Hazel Green standout Tierra Porter signed on Monday to play in college for Florida Southern.