Olivia “Olive” Henderson recogonized as "Heroes of Character"
Six tri-state students and seven adult leaders were recognized at the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky's "Heroes of Character" Annual Celebration on May 14, at the Marriott North in West Chester.
The Character Council promotes and encourages good character, strengthens individuals, and helps organizations and entire communities create a culture with good character at the core. Our partner schools, businesses, and non-profits see results in improved behavior and outcomes. In 2013, we reached over 888,000 people with inspiring messages and engaged over 52,000 youth in character building.
Adult honorees included Jermaine Armour, Pastor and Elder of the AME Zion Church; Janet Baker, Superintendent of Hamilton City Schools; Gina Graham, Coordinator of HEART program of the Eve Center; Joe Hinson, President and CEO of the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance; Todd Kelchner, Owner/CEO of Kelchner; Jody Maples, Youth Services Manager of Lawrenceburg Public Library; and Dr. Nikela Owens, Mediator and Conflict Resolution Specialist at Western Hills University High School.
Student heroes are Logan Grimes, Ridge Junior School of the Lakota District; Olivia “Olive” Henderson, Loveland High School; Megan Needham, Hamilton High School; Logan Tyler Pickett, Bridgeport Elementary of Hamilton City District; Jesika Vanderpool, Ridgeway Elementary of Hamilton City District; and Darian Woods, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
"What a delight it is to celebrate these outstanding youth and adult leaders! Their stories of overcoming obstacles, service to the community, and generosity to others give us hope. We honor them for their role as models and leaders of character in the community," said Mary Andres Russell, Executive Director.
Olive's nomination letter submittd by her J.V. basketball coach
by Greg Croskey
One of the great platitudes of our society is the concept of leading by example. It is an idea emphasized in classrooms, on athletic fields, and in boardrooms across the country. It takes many forms from the classic “you gotta walk the walk if your gonna talk the talk” to the more cogent, “character . . . it starts with me.” Regardless of the form it takes, it is a very easy concept to describe though slightly more difficult to execute. Well-educated, well-meaning adults often struggle to emulate this idea. That makes it all the more remarkable to find a young women who seems to do it so naturally. Olive Henderson is such a young women. She shows a level of character far beyond her 16 year age.
Olive is a sophomore at Loveland High School. She is a straight A student, taking numerous advanced classes. When not applying her talents in the classroom, Olive can be found on the basketball court honing her game. She has been a member of the Loveland High School JV basketball team the past two years, as well as swinging to varsity this season. Selecting Olive as a captain for the JV team was as close to a “no-brainer” as any coach could ever experience.
In an era long since passed, a basketball team’s captain(s) was responsible for meeting with the officials during warm-ups and shaking the hand of the opposing captain(s). That was the extent of the job. In modern high school sports, that may be the most insignificant aspect of the job. My captains’ job begins the minute they are selected and lasts until the moment they permanently move up to varsity. Regardless of time, day, or month they are still in a position of leadership. They are responsible for: making sure everyone is on time to practice, leading the team through stretches and drills, leading the team in warm-ups, reviewing scouting reports, leading the team on the court as well as from the bench, and addressing any issues that arise with both the team and the coach. All of these tasks require a captain to show great responsibility and initiative. They must know what is expected of them and then do it. Additionally, they need to recognize what needs to be done and do it.
Olive Henderson does both. She understands what is expected of her as an individual and as a team leader. She identifies what job she needs to complete in a given situation and does it. If she falls short of meeting expectations, on or off the court, she doesn’t make excuses. She owns up to it and asks what she can do to fix it. She’s the first to ask what she could have done differently to prevent a turnover. If a teammate gets beat on defense, Olive takes the blame for the missed assignment believing it was her job to provide help defense. If I identify a team weakness during a timeout or at half-time, Olive self-reflects on what she needs to do to address that issue regardless of whether or not she contributed to the problem.
While many captains excel at the responsibility aspect, Olive is particularly adept with the initiative aspect. If she sees the entire team is dressed and ready for practice ten minutes early, she’d pull them aside and get them stretched so that we had extra time to work on specific skills. When she suffered a season ending injury, she took the initiative to rebound for teammates during warm-ups, or to pull a teammate aside during practice to work one on one so their skill level improved. She was always looking for ways she could contribute to the individual success of her teammates as well as the team as a whole. All of this was done because Olive saw a need and a way she could contribute despite her injury. This season she showed a level of responsibility that often surpassed that of the seniors on varsity. When an injury prevented her from contributing during games, she took the initiative to find other ways to lead her teammates.
Injuries are a part of competitive athletics. Anyone who has played a sport at the high school level or beyond has experienced some degree of injury. For the lucky ones, its a rolled ankle, sprained finger, or a bruised shoulder; all injuries one can play through or at the very least, heal relatively quickly.
Olive Henderson is not one of the lucky ones. Olive dislocated her shoulder and tore her labrum less than a third of the way into the season. This was not an injury she could play through or that would heal quickly, but one requiring reconstructive surgery, thus ending her season. That outcome was expected once we discovered the extent of her injury. What was unexpected was the patience and endurance exhibited by a 16 year old young woman whose dream had been sidetracked.
My team was afforded the opportunity to watch this young woman accept the difficult situation presented to her and find the inner strength to carry on.
Were there tears when Olive found out her season was over? Of course. Did that stop her from coming to every practice between the day she was injured and the day of her surgery, and again a week after surgery? Of course NOT! The first practice following her injury Olive said to me, and I’m paraphrasing, “Coach, I know that I can’t lead us on the court anymore. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being a leader on the bench, in the locker room, or off the court.” She accepted the fact that a significant surgery was in her future, followed by months of rehab, all in the hope she might be able to return to the court nine months later.
She realized that her captaincy meant she still had a lot to offer our team. By showing up to everything, she embodied the “no quit attitude” every successful athlete needs. During games she cheered her team from the bench, giving them pointers and supporting all of us. She’d get upset she couldn’t contribute more. She wanted more than anything to take the court with her team, but she never let her own sadness at a lost opportunity stop her from being our leader. She was the person our team looked to.
She was their leader; from the moment the season started until the final horn sounded at our last game. She endured what amounts to a devastating blow to a sixteen year old self professed “gym rat”. But she had the patience and the wisdom not to give up and to recognize her larger role. She showed all of us what it means to fight back when we get knocked down. She taught every player and every coach what it means to show character.
Character . . . it’s Olive Henderson.