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Administrator Spotlight: Sammy Henderson
A graduate of Central Washington, Sammy Henderson has been the Wildcats' director of athletic communications since 2013.
A graduate of Central Washington, Sammy Henderson has been the Wildcats' director of athletic communications since 2013.
Sammy Henderson
Sammy Henderson

Friday, April 6, 2018

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, GNACsports.com uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation. 

Name: Sammy Henderson
Title: Director of Athletic Communications
School: Central Washington University
Hometown: Seattle, Wash. by way of Richmond, B.C. Canada.

Colleges Attended: Central Washington University (Undergraduate, Public Relations; Graduate, Athletic Administration)

Why Did You Decide To Work In Collegiate Athletics: Athletics has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I spent every waking moment with my nose in the sports page, playing sports, watching sports and by the time I had nothing left to give athletically, I started coaching at the high school level. I joined the CWU staff as a student assistant in 2006 and fell in love with the school and its athletic programs. Central Washington is truly a family to me. In my 11 years here, I have built lifelong friendships with my colleagues and been in the fortunate position to impact the lives of hundreds of student-athletes. I would have to say that the student-athlete is what really gives me joy in my job and is the reason I am here. They bring life to this university and everyone around them. I will have anywhere from 5 to 10 athletes that come to my office on a daily basis to just talk. We talk sports, school, life and anything else that might be on their mind or mine. The bonds that I have been able to make in my position is something that I truly cherish.

Who Has Influenced You The Most As A Professional - Either As An Inspiration, A Mentor, Or Philosophically: Jonathan Gordon. Jonathan was in my position when I came to CWU and we joined in a friendship that has proven to be unwavering. He taught me everything I know about this profession and without his mentorship, guidance and friendship, I wouldn't be waking up every morning passionate about working. Jonathan continues to have my back and has saved my butt on more than one occasion.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome As A Professional: Work-life balance. Collegiate athletics, specifically sports information and athletic communications, is a 24/7 job. It is not uncommon for us to work 80-hour weeks and finding time to be with friends and family can sometimes be hard. In the last couple of years, I have worked really hard to put my family first. My wife and kids are awesome! They know how much CWU means to me, but most importantly, they know and believe that I love them most of all. Being able to hire Caleb Dunlop as my assistant has been life-altering. Caleb is as reliable as they come and has really lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders. I am very grateful he is a part of the Wildcat family because he has given me the opportunity to be the employee, father and husband I want to be.

Extracurricular Activities: Anything that involves spending time with my family. I spend most of my evenings playing with my kids, helping them with homework, and escorting them to their various after-school activities. Outside of my family, I keep up with all the major sports and I am a UFC junkie. I hate unsanctioned violence, it makes me sick to my stomach, but getting a referee and two guys willing to step in the octagon together and compete gets my blood pumping. In the warmer seasons, I love to fish. We have 5 or 6 fishing holes here in Ellensburg and we tend to empty those things by the time summer is over.

Best Advice You’d Give To Student-Athletes: Carve out some time for yourself. I don't think the majority of people understand what student-athletes go through on a yearly basis. From the moment they land on campus, they are pulled in every direction possible and burnout happens quickly. They have weights in the morning, then class, film, practice, treatment, maybe some more class. Not to mention those student-athletes who have jobs to help them pay for school or rent. After they are done with their daily obligations, there is not a lot of time left in the day. I always encourage our student-athletes to find some time in their week where they can be obligation free.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be: My dad. My father passed away in 2005 when I was still in Seattle and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about him and the man he was in my life. He never got a chance to meet my kids or my wife. We talk about him a lot, and I tell my kids how much fun they would have had with my father. Nothing would make me happier than watching the four of them spend time together.

Favorite Sports Team: Central Washington is the obvious answer, but outside of CWU it would be the Seattle Seahawks.

Favorite Athlete: LeBron James. I know he has a lot of haters, but I have seen nothing like him in all my time. I watched Jordan, Magic, Bird, Kobe and Shaq in their primes, and in my opinion, LeBron is on another level. I am sure the men's basketball team is going to rush my office when they read this, but I always welcome a fun debate.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: In 1995, my P.E. teacher took a group of us to the Final Four practices at the Kingdome. I was, and always have been, a big North Carolina fan. They were in the final four that year, so I was pumped to go see the likes of Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Donald Williams. I found my way to the front of the gate surrounding the floor to get a first-hand look. As I got to the front I locked eyes with legendary UNC head coach Dean Smith and he walked over and shook my hand. Moments later, Oklahoma State's Bryant "Big Country" Reeves shattered the backboard and I managed to grab a few pieces. As a 12-year-old kid, that was freaking amazing!

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