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2013-10-05


All-Canadian Alex Henderson is trying to lead his Bishop's Gaiters to another championship run this fall as he completes his degrees.

Alex Henderson's time at Bishop's University has been fleeting, but he's had a big impact at the school. Henderson, in just his third year at the Sherbrooke, Quebec school, will be graduating at Christmas with twin degrees in Sociology and Psychology. He's also helped the lacrosse team win a Baggataway Cup in 2011 and is hoping to get a bookend championship this year.

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Asked what his goal for the season is, Henderson channelled his inner Kimbo Squire and said simply, “Win the title.” He's certainly doing what he can to help his team do just that. The 2012 All-Canadian and East Division scoring champion is leading all CUFLA scorers this fall at 5.3 points per game (15 goals, 17 assists in 6 games). The point, though, as he made clear is not to win another scoring title but to earn another championship.

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To that end, Henderson is a bit disappointed in his team's 4-2 record. The two losses is one more than they suffered in the last two regular seasons combined. As long as they learn from their mistakes and play their own game, though, Henderson believes Bishop's will be just fine when the playoffs roll around in a few weeks.

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“I think we've just got to stick to our game plan. The games that we've struggled in, we've kind of let the other teams dictate the pace,” Henderson said. “We lost to Queens 8-7. We were down 5-1 because we played their game. Then in the third and fourth quarter we turned it on and we were almost unstoppable. But we keep leaving ourselves too little time to make those comebacks. The same thing against McGill last week when we lost. We were down 6-1 or something like that, then in the third and fourth we started to play our game and we dictated the pace the rest of the game. I think we need to start coming out a little hotter and dictate the pace from the opening faceoff.”

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Henderson's own game is thriving this fall, and he says it's largely thanks to his summer with the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, where he played 19 games with their star-studded lineup, scoring 4 goals and 11 assists. “Last summer I didn't play at all then I came back and it was a bit of a slower start,” Henderson says. “I felt like I really had to work harder than this year coming off a summer of a really high level of competition and just talking to guys on the Peterborough team. It really felt like it was easier to come back here and play at a high level after playing at a high level all summer.”

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The 26-year-old credits some of his Lakers' teammates with helping him to continue developing his game, even if he didn't get the floor time that he's used to having as a star at the Senior B and college field levels. “Obviously on a team like that, it's so loaded, you just take what you can get. Just talking to guys in the dressing room was great. [John Grant, Jr.] was a big help and Jordan MacIntosh was a really big help, working on stuff. It's just great to be around guys like that that know the game so well and excel at it. It's always great to learn from guys like that no matter what age you are.”

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Gaiters Head Coach Rob Engelken says that approach to the game is why Henderson is such a tremendous player. “Alex came in as a very talented player and has just kept improving the whole time he's been there. The big thing has been adapting his talent to the field game. He's still improving every week.”

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Engelken says Henderson's hard work has rubbed off on the players around him as much as his talent and leadership have been critical to the team's success. He also points out that Henderson is a top scorer even though none of Bishop's plays are designed specifically for him. “He just plays a really strong game quarterbacking the offence, setting things up for other guys. Most of his points the last few years have been assists. He has no problem taking himself right out of it if that's what's dictated by what's happening on the field. He has great field vision and terrific passing skills.”

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Henderson gets his share of goals, as well, though because he has a knack for creating opportunities on the run. For example, W88check out this beauty of a one-hander against Carleton.

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Henderson is a mature player and student, having taken a while to decide what it was he wanted to do. He started his university career at Sacred Heart in Connecticut but dropped out because he decided it wasn't for him. He completed a police foundations program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario then worked for a year before returning to school at Bishop's. He hasn't wasted any time, staying for spring and summer school to complete his degrees in just three years.

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He'll bring that same determination to the final weeks of his university lacrosse career. “We had a bit of a slow start but now we're coming together and that's what it's going to take—working hard and getting everybody on the same page.” As a team captain, he's doing his part to get his team ready to play when they hit the field, rather than in the second half of games. “I think it's just a matter of battling nerves, keeping everybody calm. We're switching up warmups and everything to come out a little bit harder.”

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For now, much of the focus is on an October 16 rematch with the Redmen at McGill. Ultimately, though, Henderson and the Gaiters are looking to be the last team standing on November 3, when the Baggataway Cup final is played in Montreal.




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