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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Q&A: Henshaw steps down as Bulldogs' JV coach

  • After 18 years on sidelines, Henshaw gives up seat to see son Capel play college ball
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  •  Don't consider it a complete close to the book, but Brandon Henshaw is shutting the chapter as Harrisburg High School junior varsity basketball coach after some 30-plus years on the sideline.
    The rationale is simple - at least for Henshaw - who steps away from the Bulldogs after 18 years.
    Henshaw's oldest son, Capel will be playing basketball for Lewis University in upstate Romeoville this winter and Henshaw doesn't want to be saddled with the decision of coaching a Saturday night basketball game in Benton when Capel is playing at Evansville.
    "Life is too short," Henshaw said. "It's a dad thing."
    After Gene Haile asked Henshaw to become fifth and sixth grade basketball coach in 1981-82, Henshaw began a career that took him to Shawneetown before joining Randy Smithpeters' staff 18 years ago.
    Henshaw sat down with the Daily Register to reflect on his coaching career, what memories he takes away and if he'll ever return to the sidelines.
    Daily Register: ThirtyTwo years — that's a lot to expand on — what do you take away from that time?
    Brandon Henshaw: First and foremost for me was helping build the basketball program here at Harrisburg. I graduated from here, I have been around Harrisburg basketball all my life. I remember when there was "no chance" that you are going to win the regional or the conference, to what it is now. To see what it is now is something really special.
    DR: So there is a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment what you guys have been able to achieve and maintain?
    BH: Yeah. We set a lot of goals and for the most part, they really haven't changed. From wanting to win 20 games every year, to winning the the conference and to get to the Final Four of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament and the championship of the Carmi-White County Invitational, to winning a regional. Now, it seems like we have a good chance of going beyond the regionals and deep into the postseason every year, but it helps when you have players.
    DR: Is there a secret in the Harrisburg formula that yourself and Randy used to develop players?
    BH: I think the whole program has changed up and down. We have good coaches at the junior high level, we've got good coaches at the freshman level, so by the time they get to me and then to Randy, you have players that want to play. So, they show up in the summers and they do what you ask of them. They have bought into the success and you don't just play basketball to play basketball anymore. You play to be successful. I also think because of that the community has not only gotten behind just the basketball program, but the entire athletic program. We're one of the most successful athletic programs in the state.
    Page 2 of 3 - DR: That success was this year's state championship in basketball. For you, was that the epitome of 32 years of hard work?
    BH: The great thing about that particular group was it was a bunch of guys that Capel grew up with. I remember a lot of those guys coming over in the first and second grade. It was that nucleus that he grew up with, a bunch of guys that loved to be in the gym. We've had some real good teams in the past that I thought with a few breaks we could get to Peoria, but this was the goal for this group since they were little kids.
    DR: How special was it to not only be a coach on that team, but to coach Capel.
    BH: It was a true double-edged sword. I looked forward to coaching him as he came up, but when it came time for being to be able to coach him, he stepped over me and went straight to varsity. He never started for me, so that was bitter-sweet, but obviously for him it was better in the long run.
    DR: So you never had the chance to coach Capel?
    BH: I did one time. It was a camp and Kevin Dowdy had surgery and asked if I could take the eighth grade group to Evansville. I've worked with him individually, but from a team standpoint, I was never his head coach.
    DR: Do you think he's happy about that?
    BH: Oh, I don't know!
    DR: You and Randy obviously have a special relationship, bond. What was it like being by his side for all those years?
    BH: I have tremendous respect for him. There would be games that we didn't know how we could beat a team, could we beat a team and Randy would come into a practice one day, sit down and say 'This is how I think we can beat them.' A lot of times, I would just watch it come to fruition, in practice and in games. A lot of the games were games that we weren't even it, but towards the end we had a chance. You stand on the sidelines with someone for the better part of 18 years and you know what to expect, it was kind of the good-cop, bad-cop a lot of times. My role was taking a kid to the side and tell him, 'don't listen to how he's telling you something, listen to what he's telling you.'
    DR: This is all coming on the heels of Capel going to Lewis, which now you have the opportunity to see Capel play college ball, grow and mature. How much does that mean to you.
    BH: I'll still be around. I'm going to volunteer and I'll be at practice and games when I can. I just couldn't commit to being there 100 percent of the time. Life is too short. I didn't want to be sitting at Benton on Saturday night and Capel be playing at Evansville and then all of a sudden four years go by and when I could have seen him X amount of games, I got to see half of that. It's a dad thing.
    Page 3 of 3 - DR: Obviously with that much time put in and more importantly invested in, how hard was the decision for you to make. Was it really even an issue?
    BH: It was difficult. It was something that I have done for so long that I didn't know how comfortable I would be with it. If Capel would have maybe gone someplace closer, perhaps I would have stayed on. I talked it over with my wife several times and it's just something that I felt like I had to do.
    DR: What do you take away from your time as a coach? Is the state championship what will stand out the most?
    BH: The state championship was a tremendous experience, but I will say that over the years, it's the little things that probably mean the most to me. Times when I'm sitting on the sidelines talking to a kid, going to camp and get to know a kid better or getting in a situation where you know kids better. It's the little things that you build with the kids. Guys that are in the 40's now walk up to me and call me 'coach.' You're 40 now, you don't have to call me coach! Being out there teaching, it's the relationships you build and those that you build with people and coaches from other towns.
    DR: Did the thought ever cross your mind about coaching someplace else? Were you ever accepted an offer to coach someplace else?
    BH: I've had some opportunities, but you have to remember, I'm from this community. I thought about it several times because Randy came to me in the summer of 1995 and asked me to be the junior varsity coach, I thought I would be JV coach for a few years and then I would go someplace else. Well, 18 years later, I am still here. My answer is why? Why would I leave. This is my hometown and the success is there and I feel like Iam a part of that success. Plus, I wanted to raise my kids in that environment as well.

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