When Dean Henderson
wife, Paula, moved into their new home in Meadville in 1978, Henderson
wife some simple instructions.
"We're not going to pound any nails in the walls," he
recalls telling his
wife."We're not putting up any pictures."
Henderson's main objective wasn't trying to protect the appearance of his
newest investment, rather he
just didn't anticipate living there long."We weren't staying," said Henderson, who was an assistant football coach at Allegheny College at the time.
"My goal was to move on in college; I wanted to be a college football coach."
Twenty-eight years later, though, not only has that home had a few holes put in the walls, but some renovations as well, all with the approval of its owners: the Hendersons.
"We're still here," Henderson
A lot has changed since that day Henderson vowed to live in Meadville only a short while.
The Slippery Rock University graduate is no longer longing for a collegiate football coaching position.Instead, he
has become one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in northwestern Pennsylvania.In fact, on Tuesday, Henderson joined an elite group of individuals when he led the Meadville girls to a 57-29 win over Grove City for the 400th win of his career.
It was a feat that Henderson
never expected, especially being a "football guy" and all.
Ironically, however, it was football that drew Henderson
first basketball coaching position.Henderson was the football coach at Venango Catholic - then Venango Christian - when the boys basketball coach, who at the time wouldn't allow his players to play football, stepped down.Henderson
, who led the Vikings to a 25-22-4 mark during his
six-year tenure as football coach, went to the headmaster and asked to coach both teams, marking the start of his
basketball coaching career in 1973.
What a decision it was.Henderson
coached V.C. for five seasons, leading the Vikings to a conference crown in 1977-78, a pair of District 10 titles (1975-76, 1977-78) and a trip to the PIAA western semifinals (1977-78).
In 1978, Henderson
returned to his
passion for football as an assistant coach at Allegheny where he
served under head coaches Sam Timer and Robert Wolfe.But he
never strayed far from hoops, coaching the boys basketball team at Saegertown simultaneously.
"I just sort of kept my fingers in basketball," Henderson
said."I was leaving the football field at Allegheny and going to Saegertown to coach basketball."
Henderson's football coaching career came to an end in 1985, but he
continued to coach the Saegertown basketball team, leading the Panthers to the French Creek Valley Conference championship and the state playoffs in 1989-90.
From there, Henderson
went to Cambridge Springs
most successful years.He
led the Spa to four league titles, two District 10 runner-up finishes and the PIAA western finals twice.He
was 98-24 as the head coach of the Blue Devils
In 1998, Henderson
finally announced his
retirement from coaching after an eight-year stint at Cambridge Springs High School
left with a career coaching record of 344-196 over 22 years.
"I always felt like I got so much out of sports," Henderson
said."It basically put me through college and stuff like that.I felt like I owed it back to the sports."Henderson
didn't stay in retirement for long.In 2002, he
was presented with a great opportunity at Meadville.
's daughter, Abby, just two years away from the varsity program, Henderson felt returning to coaching was almost too good of an opportunity to pass up and one that gave him the unique chance to coach 400 victories.
"It's been a good run," Henderson
said."I've been at four schools where there have been quality people everywhere.
They give a lot of the credit to Henderson
."We're glad we have a good coach like (Henderson)," senior guard Ivy Deegan said.
"It's a lot of work (playing for Henderson)," she
intense and stuff, but he
gets the best out of you.He
knows what he's
Seeing the success of players like Heller, Deegan and his daughter, Abby, is exactly why Henderson
is still coaching.
400th career basketball victory when Meadville defeated Grove City on Tuesday, 57-29.A former assistant football coach at Allegheny College
and head coach at Venango Catholic
has been coaching the Lady Bulldogs since 2002.RICHARD SAYER/Meadville Tribune photo illustration (Click for larger image)