Santa Clara is catching up with many of the women celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics. Today we look back with former Bronco women's soccer player Rachel Henderson '01 (Weber) (RH). Henderson played for Santa Clara from 1997-2000. Her senior the Broncos lost 2-1 in overtime at Notre Dame in the NCAA Quarterfinals. She is now happy and healthy living in Davenport, Iowa. She is a pastor's wife and mother of three wonderful little kids.
SCU: This year Santa Clara is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics at SCU. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to you to have played in the first 50 years?
RH: I am humbled that I was blessed to have the experience to be a part of women's athletics at SCU. The women's soccer program helped push me to excel in all areas of my life and expect that I can always do more than I might think I am capable of in the moment.
SCU: Do you have special memories of Santa Clara you would like to share with us? A couple as an athlete or a student?
RH: As an athlete, the travel experiences were really a privilege that at the time I definitely took for granted. We were so fortunate to fly all around the country and stay in nice hotels, share humor and make memories. I think throughout the experience I did not appreciate the effort of those who paved the road before me to make SCU such an elite program nor did I appreciate the efforts of the coaches and parents that provided all the experiences that helped shape my young adult life. As a parent now, I am overwhelmed by the incredible sacrifices that the adults before me incurred to help give me a step ahead in life. I am so thankful for their efforts.
As a student, I always held very high expectations for myself. If anything, I think now it is so crazy to look back on my OMIS classes in the Business school and see how far technology has come just since I was in school. One of my teammates, Nicole Leonard, came to my freshman room when I first arrived at SCU in 1997 and helped unload an enormous monitor and CPU into my dorm room when I first arrived from Colorado to California. I had no idea how to put together this ridiculous load of a computer, but hauled it around all four years and was so grateful for her initial knowledge. I spent time instant messaging my boyfriend at the time and did not have a cell phone. The world changes so quickly. I used to look forward to escapes to Jamba Juice (and remember when it was put on campus!) and to Cold Stone.
SCU: What was it like for you to play at Santa Clara?
RH: At the time, playing at Santa Clara was like a high expectation professional/executive occupation. I knew people were counting on us to keep SCU on top and we had such potential to win a national championship. I know looking back on it in adulthood now, I put WAY TOO MUCH pressure on the expectations and outcomes. I forgot to have fun and remember why I loved what was once a game to me. I have plenty of wonderful memories with my teammates and cherish those years, but mostly look back and wish I could have had a little more fun and taken a deep breath to think about what was the eternal value of getting so worked up. This same drive made me strive for excellence, but probably more to my physical and emotional detriment then benefit at the time.
SCU: What was special about being a college student-athlete as a woman?
RH: We had the opportunity to do things that my mother's generation probably never had presented to them. We had the opportunity to use skills that we were passionate about and team that with an incredible education. It was in that environment and on that field that we pushed ourselves to know that we could always give a little bit more. That same attitude carries over into all of life - marriage, parenting, relationships with others, work, you name it. When you think you are done, look deeper. I sincerely believe that athletics instilled that mentality in my heart and college competition took that to a new level.
SCU: What do you see in the future for college athletics?
RH: I am not certain what the future holds for college athletics, but I pray that the young athletes search for balance from the beginning. High achievement and high expectations will lead to success, but without life balance, contentment is unattainable. I am thankful for my SCU experience and wish I would have cherished it more while I was in the experience and hope that future athletes take the time to be thankful as they proceed.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29