Heading to the Keydets
Indian Head’s Henderson signs with VMI for lacrosse
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.”
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.