Thinking outside of the box

Senior history student looks to build coaching resume and interest in soccer through goalkeeper training in Eau Claire area

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Photo by Trent Tetzlaff

Henderson barks out orders to the Eau Claire North JV girls soccer team he coached last year.

Ever since he was a little kid, Lucas Henderson, a senior history student at UW-Eau Claire said he has been fascinated with soccer.

Whether watching, playing or coaching the game Henderson has done it all, and said he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

The current challenge, Henderson said, is the business he created three years ago and continues to grow and develop called Henderson Goalkeeper Training.

When Henderson started the business he allowed any age group to sign up for his training. However, over the past year he has narrowed it down to working with ages 11-18 because of his love for working with kids and developing their skills.

“I like to be able to see things click with the kids,” Henderson said. “It’s very cool when someone is struggling with something for the longest time, and then you finally find that way to fix it and a lightbulb goes on in their head and you can just see it.”

Along with running his independent training business over the past few years, Henderson has also spent time training goalkeepers at Eau Claire North High School, coaching their JV soccer team, and playing for Eau Claire Aris FC, a local semi-pro team where he said he gained a majority of his goalkeeper training skills.

He said this past summer was the first summer he decided to solely focus on training goalies one-on-one.

When Henderson came back to the Eau Claire area for his final year as a UW-Eau Claire student this fall, he had six students he began to train.

Henderson said he started training the students once to twice a week. Started with the basics, such as form and technique, and worked up to tougher drills later on. Along with the training, Henderson, said he also works to keep the athletes in contact with college coaches.

Henderson said he trains a wide variety of skill levels, from beginners to starting varsity goalkeepers at area high schools who are looking to continue playing in college.

Although Henderson hasn’t been a coaching name in the Eau Claire area for very long and has only been running his business a few years, he said he has contacts with college coaches from schools such as Viterbo University in La Crosse and Drake University in Iowa to help connect athletes.

“Film isn’t as popular as it used to be as coaches would rather see you in person,” he said. “A lot of times it comes down to getting the kids to good camps that a lot of coaches are at, and I also know a lot of area coaches just through networking.”

One coach Henderson made an impression on early on in his coaching career is Eau Claire North’s boys head soccer coach Terry Albrecht, who said Henderson brings the knowledge of a former goalkeeper to young goalies and puts them in a good position after working with him.

“Lucas brought our program at North the experience of a goalkeeper which is invaluable,” Albrecht said. “Especially when you have young goalies that don’t have much experience he really makes a difference in their development.”

One dynamic that sets Henderson apart from many high school coaches is his college age, which is something that Albrecht said allows him to be so successful with kids.

“The neat thing about having a college-aged coach is that they are not that far removed from high school,” he said. “He is able to get along and relate with the kids really well, so he has to take his ability to be friends and a mentor to these kids at the same time and use it to make them better.”

Henderson said he charges $20 per individual hour long session, but also does book some group training sessions as well, which could include up to five people for $15 a person.

Although making money through the lessons helps keep Henderson’s business running, he said pricing his lessons steeply and trying to make large profits is not what the business is about, but rather about gaining training experience for his future.

Henderson said as he looks ahead to his future after graduation this spring, he would like to continue coaching and will look into the few college assistant coaching offers he has received, but will see what happens with his history degree as well.

As for now, Henderson has continued his work with local goalkeepers, but also recently partnered with UW-Eau Claire Associate Dean of Students Jodi Thesing-Ritter, a part-owner of the Eau Claire Sport Warehouse, to start winter training sessions for kids inside the complex.

“Soccer has always been my favorite sport,” Henderson said. “And to be able to play, and now be able to coach a sport that is intriguing in so many ways is amazing in my mind.”