Head­ing to the Key­dets

In­dian Head’s Hen­der­son signs with VMI for lacrosse

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

Miles Hen­der­son has lived in three states, gone to two high schools and played sev­eral sports, but he might have fi­nally found his niche af­ter the In­dian Head res­i­dent re­cently signed his let­ter of in­tent to play lacrosse at Di­vi­sion I Vir­ginia Mil­i­tary In­sti­tute.

Hen­der­son, a se­nior de­fense­man at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Vir­ginia, also con­sid­ered play­ing at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, but ul­ti­mately de­cided the Key­dets were the right fit for him.

“I’m ex­tremely excited,” said Hen­der­son, who plans to ma­jor in Bi­ol­ogy. “If a school was fine for what I wanted to do, if I couldn’t play lacrosse, I wouldn’t con­sider it, so going to VMI and play­ing lacrosse that was great be­cause it had all the things I wanted: a great ed­u­ca­tion, mil­i­tary school and I wanted to play lacrosse.”

“A school like VMI is fit for a par­tic­u­lar type of per­son and miles very much fits that mold,” St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School head coach Tim Dodds said. “He’s very struc­tured, very dis­ci­plined and very reg­i­mented in ev­ery­thing. He’s a self-starter and you need to be a per­son like that to go to a school like that and ex­cel.”

The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder also wanted to at­tend a branch of the mil­i­tar y.

“I was raised in a mil­i­tary family,” said Hen­der­son, whose fa­ther Ernest Cham­bers is in the Air Force, “so I’ve al­ways had the strict kind of life­style where ev­ery­thing was clean, ev­ery­thing was in order, so that’s the life I wanted to con­tinue on my own.”

Af­ter hav­ing just moved from Las Vegas, Hen­der­son was a fresh­man on the St. Mary’s Ryken bas­ket­ball team. One day he went up for a layup and when he came down af­ter mak­ing the shot, ju­nior var­sity lacrosse coach Chris Perkin­son was there. Perkin­son is now the head var­sity coach at SMR.

“He said, ‘You’re ath­letic. We’re look­ing for some peo­ple to play lacrosse. You could be a real help to us on our team,’” Hen­der­son said. “My first thought was, ‘What is lacrosse? I had moved here from Las Vegas, I didn’t know about it, but I knew I wanted to play mul­ti­ple sports, so I thought maybe this could be my next sport so I thought, ‘Why not?’” When I first saw it, I was a lit­tle con­fused be­cause ev­ery­thing was mov­ing so fast, but I got to hit peo­ple with sticks, I got to push peo­ple around and I got to run. I was a wide re­ceiver, so I was used to pass­ing and catch­ing; it was ev­ery­thing in be­tween [that was hard].”

Af­ter three years at St. Mary’s Ryken, Hen­der­son trans­ferred to St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes to fur­ther his ed­u­ca­tion — he’s main­tained a 3.5 grade point av­er­age — for his fi­nal two years. His fa­ther had re­clas­si­fied him as a ju­nior at the Alexan­dria, Va.-based school.

“I had looked at the [Knights’] sched­ule and saw them, so I looked them up and I was sur­prised to see they were ranked 10th in the na­tion at the time,” Hen­der­son said. “It was a huge step going to a top-tier team in the state. It was in­tense, but the kind of in­ten­sity I liked. I en­joyed going out there and com­pet­ing for my spot.”

“When I first saw him play I was like, ‘Wow, what a tremen­dous ath­lete,’” Dodds said. “[He was] very raw in terms of the skill set he had, but I thought if we were able to pol­ish off some of th­ese skills around the edges, he could turn into quite a dan­ger­ous de­fender. He’s done a tremen­dous job with us; his skills have im­proved, his com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills are tremen­dous. He’s shown tremen­dous growth.”

But he played just two games with the Saints that year af­ter tear­ing his menis­cus play­ing hoops.

“He wasn’t too happy about that,” Hen­der­son said of his lacrosse coach at the time.

This sea­son, Hen­der­son helped the Saints cap­ture their sec­ond-straight Vir­ginia In­de­pen­dent Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion state cham­pi­onship Saturday with a one-goal win over Nor­folk Academy.

“Going to the same place and do­ing what I couldn’t do last year was just a great feel­ing,” he said of win­ning a ti­tle.

VMI fin­ished the 2017 sea­son 2-12 over­all, 0-7 in the South­ern Con­fer­ence.

“I’m going to try and be one of the hard­est work­ing play­ers on the field,” Hen­der­son said of his fresh­man year at VMI. “I’m not going to talk back, I’m a very coach­able per­son, take con­struc­tive crit­i­cism well. I’m prob­a­bly not the smartest [in terms of lacrosse IQ], but I’m def­i­nitely going be all up for work­ing harder than ev­ery­one else.”

“He’s an all-around tremen­dous ath­lete,” Dodds said. “He’s got in­cred­i­ble speed in the open field of play, but also does very well with change of di­rec­tion. He’s a very good one-on-one body de­fender. He’s just a very ver­sa­tile all-around ath­lete, but also also has the tech­nique and that’s where his ath­leti­cism comes out. That’s what makes the dif­fer­ence.”

PHOTO BY SU­SAN HAMON

St. Stephens & St. Agnes School (Va.) se­nior Miles Hen­der­son, front, is headed to Vir­ginia Mil­i­tary In­sti­tute on a lacrosse schol­ar­ship. In the back row is fa­ther Ernest Cham­bers Jr. hold­ing Carter Cham­bers, mother Jen­nifer Cham­bers and sis­ter Jaiden Cham­bers. Hen­der­son is an In­dian Head res­i­dent who also at­tended and played St. Mary’s Ryken High School dur­ing his high school ca­reer.

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