By Holly D’Addio, The Source Sports Writer:
Clinton resident and Polson Middle School principal Frank Henderson learned his deep passion for basketball at a young age, as he attended the all-boys Catholic school Archbishop Stepinac High School, a school known for its rich basketball tradition. The White Plains, New York, native has since coached at his alma mater and in New Canaan and has spent his more recent free time involved with the Clinton Youth Basketball program.
Frank graduated from Stepinac in 1981 after playing basketball for four years and serving as captain his senior year. He was also an all-league player in one of the most competitive leagues in the area. After graduating high school, Fred then went on to University of South Carolina where he earned a degree in English before returning to his hometown of White Plains.
“I got a teaching job right out of college at Stepinac and it was great to go back and get to teach at my old school,” says Frank, who was named head basketball coach at Stepinac at age 23. “I had grown up around Stepinac basketball and always stayed involved even in college when I came back to help out with the team on my breaks. When the job opened, I was lucky enough to secure the position and it was the best job I ever had, being able to coach these kids and work in the school.”
For eight seasons, Frank coached and had four seasons with 20-plus wins, earned four division championships, two Class B championships, and was named New York Catholic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1991.
After leaving Stepinac, Frank went on to coach at New Canaan High School in 1994 where he coached and taught for six years. He was then the middle school assistant principal there and it was then that his high school coaching career ended. When he moved to Clinton, he became the assistant principal at Daniel Hand High School in Madison and is currently the principal at Polson Middle School.
Although his high school coaching career has ended, Frank spends much of his free time involved in the Clinton Youth Basketball Program. He coaches travel and instructional leagues at the second and third grade level.
“I’m back into it in a totally different way,” says Frank. “I’m involved as a volunteer parent coach and it’s very rewarding when your kids are involved. It certainly is enjoyable and fun and I’m lucky to have some great kids and parents in the program. I kind of felt that if my kids played, it’s a passion of mine so I’d continue to volunteer.”
Frank still tries to play pick-up basketball when he can, working and improving his game as much as possible, and also enjoys watching the high school basketball games and sharing that with his kids. He also coaches Little League baseball.
Most recently, Frank was inducted on June 17 in Stepinac’s Hardwood Club (Hall of Fame) for his contributions of playing and coaching.
“It felt really great to have my whole family there,” says Frank. “It didn’t change how I felt about my past and it was humbling to see a lot of my former players come to that. The things that help me in my job as a principal are the experiences I’ve had as a coach—getting people to work as a team and work together. You learn a lot and it’s directly related to coaching. I love my job, the town I live in, and our great school program.”
Sidelines with Frank Henderson
What is your most memorable sports moment?
When we won the 1991 City Championship—it was our first one and a new territory for our program as the team hadn’t won one in more than 30 years. And also a more recent memory was when our fourth-grade travel team won the Waterford Tournament 14-2. I get as much out of it when my kids are involved.
Who would you like to thank?
The whole Stepinac community and the atmosphere they instilled for a positive and safe environment—having a positive and safe environment for kids to always play is so important and I’ll never forget it because the ball was always bouncing in that gym. I also want to thank my late parents and my whole family—my dad never missed a game and my parents were always fixtures in that gym for more than 20 years between when I played and coached. I want to thank Don Larkin, the athletic director at Stepinac because he redefined the meaning of an educator.
Pictured: Frank Henderson (back left), with his fourth-grade Clinton travel team, has been a lifelong fixture on the basketball court and was recently inducted into his alma mater high school’s Hall of Fame.
Photo courtesy of Jen Urban