Senior spotlight: Burrell pitcher uses off-the-wall method to keep throwing

Friday, April 17, 2020 | 6:01 AM

Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight a WPIAL spring athlete whose senior year has been cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Burrell pitcher Jack Henderson wants to keep his arm loose even as the coronavirus restrictions that canceled the high school baseball season keep him at home, but he isn’t quarantined with a catcher. So he heads outside from time to time, firing pitches off a wall.

That image might sum up the 2020 spring sports season better than any other.

“It’s just kind of me and the wall,” Henderson said. “It does the job.”

Henderson and some of his teammates have been hit with double-barrel bad news in recent weeks.

First, the PIAA called off spring sports.

“I was pretty disappointed,” Henderson said. “This was the season you’ve been waiting for since your freshman year. To hear it taken away just like that, you didn’t even get to enjoy your last time on the field. It’s pretty tough.”

Then, the American Legion season was canceled.

“I had a little bit of hope that I was going to play some baseball this year. That just ended it all,” Henderson said. “It’s like, ‘Wow, it’s really over now.’ ”

It’s not all bad news for Henderson these days, however. First, he still has plenty of competitive baseball ahead of him, as he plans to play in college.

Second, he realizes he had a pretty solid four-year run in Burrell sports, from playing safety and wide receiver on one of the area’s most exciting football teams to playing baseball for a perennial playoff contender.

“Oh, 100 percent,” Henderson said. “It was awesome.”

What is your best sports memory at Burrell?

Freeport football game this year. It was homecoming. We had everybody out there, all our old friends. We beat them on that last touchdown (to win 36-35 in overtime). It was insane.

What is your best memory as a sports fan?

I wasn’t at the game, but I remember watching it live when Russell Martin hit that home run off (Johnny) Cueto right after he dropped the ball. I’ll always remember that one. The Penguins winning the Stanley Cup back-to-back, that might be better.

Who would you say is your school’s biggest rival?

Depends on the sport. It’s usually Valley, but for baseball, it’s kind of turned into Freeport. Football, basketball, everything else, it’s usually Valley. Right across the bypass there.

What’s the best way to avoid boredom when stuck at home?

I’d say staying in shape. Running, lifting. I don’t run too much, honestly. I’m more into lifting weights. Keeping my arm loose. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff online.

What are your college plans?

I haven’t decided exactly where I’m going yet. I’m playing baseball at either one. I think I’m leaning toward Wooster. The other one’s Saint Vincent.

Do you know what you want to study?

I’m going to major in business economics. I’ve been involved with it since I was a sophomore in high school. I used to have a side hustle online, selling stuff. I moved to selling clothes, my own clothing, other stuff.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

Probably Kobe Bryant. I like the mamba mentality. I was always a Kobe fan.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

I bet everybody says this, but you’ve got to cherish it. You can’t take it for granted. You just never know. A pandemic comes through and completely wipes it out. Never take it for granted.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at


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