• Kevin Martinez

Shanequa Henry - Hardworking and Humble at EOSC



Shanequa Henry wants a life in basketball, even though she knows that means a lot of hard work. The point guard puts in that effort at Eastern Oklahoma State College, and averaging more than 18 points a game.

 

But she did not get here alone. Growing up with five siblings who all played basketball, Shanequa has always been surrounded by the game. Having a close connection with her family has been something that Shanequa has cherished.

 

Now, though, the Texarkana, Texas native is far from the family dining room. “My biggest hurdle is being away from my family while at college and not being able to eat my parent's delicious home-cooked meals.” Shanequa says. “Although they both cook well, my mom is better than my dad when it comes to her spaghetti.”

 

In addition to serving up pasta, Rosetta Henry has supported Shanequa's basketball dreams and played a crucial role in helping her grow in confidence as a woman, as well as a basketball player. Shanequa was quiet growing up and her mom knew that basketball brought her out of her shell.

 

“I always used to tell her to go after what she wants and don’t ever underestimate what you can be.” Rosetta said, “The basketball court was always a place where she could be herself.”

 

Meanwhile, her dad, Ricky, was also helping her along her basketball journey. She grew up playing basketball every day outside and training with him. He noticed Shanequa would never fail to be ready to practice and would work hard to fix every mistake.

 

Since Shanequa was just one of his six children and all played basketball, Ricky always had his hands full working with them and helping them reach their full potential on the court. Shanequa was not the first to move out, but her move to college is having an effect on her dad.


“When all of them start moving out it would still take time for me to get adjusted every time one of them would leave.” Ricky said. “Every time one of them would leave I would have an empty feeling.”

 

Shanequa and her dad both miss the times they had together growing up and bonding by playing and practicing in the backyard every day. Yet the bond she has with her parents is indestructible. They stay connected every day over the phone and Shanequa can still get life and basketball advice from her parents. Her dad sends her quotes from basketball players and gives daily pep talks.

 

Shanequa is also building a family within her team. Her two best friends are Crystal Ortiz and Brayanna Polk of her Eastern Oklahoma squad. Spending so much time with them on and off the court means Shanequa has two sisterlike friends to be there for her while she is away from home.

 

Religion is also important to the star guard. Shanequa keeps up with her faith by reading a daily Bible app and prays before every game. A Bible verse that guides her is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 


 

Shanequa knows she is gifted. Yet despite her obvious skills, her humility stands out and distinguishes her from others. She never gloats, she just proves herself on the court.

 

For example, “She would play against the boys in elementary school and drop 38 points on them and they had to kick her off the team because she was too good,” her older sister Shanteka explained.


It is not simply skills, of course. She has also enjoyed great coaching and mentoring to guide her to where she is today. Marsha Cowling, her high school basketball coach, provided advice that would have an impact on Shanequa to this day. “Never feel pressured about being the best in the city and just play your game,” Cowlings would say. That advice has stuck with Shanequa and has helped her become the player she is today. She is clutch and feels no pressure late in games. Shanequa will take on any challenge head-on.


Helping her face these challenges is Tevin Wilson, her personal trainer for the last three years. They have worked on every facet of her game from defensive assignments to dribble moves.

 

“She is a true point guard in the way she is able to run the floor offensively and defensively,” Tevin says. “She is always making the right passing decision and helps the team more than anything. That is rare in today's game where players look out for themselves more often and tend to shoot a lot of threes.”


Also, looking back on her practice sessions with her dad, Shanequa recalls him trying to fix any little mistake she made, and that she would not stop until it was fixed. To this day Ricky will sometimes criticize things, such as how she holds the ball when she shoots. When asked who would win a game of one on one between her and her dad, Shanequa said, "Probably my dad," then jokingly added, "but maybe not, he's kind of broken down now."



Shanequa’s outstanding season so far is also a result of working with her mentor and head coach at Eastern Oklahoma State, Al Davis and his assistant, Karina Gee. Davis noticed her at a basketball tournament a mere one month into his job and saw her potential. After talking with Shanequa and her dad, he worked to bring out that aggressiveness they both knew she had. He believed that focusing on putting in extra effort on defense would open the floor for her to make plays on offense. Gee spent a lot of time working with Shanequa this summer as well.

 

As Shanequa excels on the court, she is studying physical therapy. After attending a program where she shadowed a physical therapist, she knew that she had found something that would interest her outside of basketball. She knows it is important to have options in life, as on the court.

 

Meanwhile, there are many games still to be played, and Shanequa says, “The job is not finished yet.”


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