Stillwater News Press

Sports

July 4, 2012

Former Mulhall-Orlando coach inducted into Hall of Fame

ORLANDO, Okla. — Over his 38 year career former Mulhall-Orlando coach Mike Henderson has given a lot of locker room speeches in front of thousands of athletes.

So when Henderson was inducted into the Oklahoma High School Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame on June 1 at Weatherford, Henderson knew exactly what to say.

“I didn’t want to get emotional during my speech, so what I tried to do was keep everything pretty light and bring a lot of humor to it,” Henderson said. “I didn’t feel nervous in any way, shape fashion or form because I kind of like those type of things. It was a fairly intimate crowd, so I just felt really comfortable with it.”

As comfortable as Henderson was standing at the podium giving his speech, that’s how comfortable he made his players feel on the court.

A native of Purcell and a graduate from the University of Oklahoma, Henderson was a first ballot inductee as a member of the Class of 2012.

“It’s exciting and it was an honor to be inducted into the hall of fame,” Henderson said. “As you go through, there becomes a point in time where you’re not concerned about the hall of fame. You’re just trying to take it one year at a time. But as you go along and you’re lucky enough to have a little success, you start to think about it a little more. Of course, most of my success is largely because I was at the right place at the right time. I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of talented players around me, so this honor is really a tribute to them.”

Henderson finished his career with a 644-310 mark, which included two stints at Mulhall-Orlando. He won the Class 4A girls state basketball championship at Stigler in 2002 and also coached Sterling to the 1987 fastpitch softball state championship.

“As I look back on my career after it was all said and done, that state championship that I was able to guide Stigler to in 2002 was probably the most important thing that happened to me in the coaching ranks,” Henderson said.

Coaching both the boys and girls at Mulhall-Orlando from 1976-78, Henderson returned as the Lady Panthers’ coach from 2008-11. Henderson’s teams went 58-28 during his second tenure and reached the Area finals for the first time in school history during the 2010-11 season.

“That last year, we had two special games at our place,” Henderson said. “We won our own invitational tournament, then a little bit later we won a regional at our place and held Deer Creek-Lamont to a season-low. At that point, when we won the regional, we knew we were going to get two cracks to get to the state tournament. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that done, but we were in a historical place for the Mulhall-Orlando girls because neither Mulhall nor Orlando nor Mulhall-Orlando had ever been in a game to go to the state tournament. It was just a little piece of history for us.”

But while Henderson may look back fondly at his various stops along the way Henderson said coaching two different generations of Mulhall-Orlando athletes is something that will always stick with him.

“When I heard there was an opening at Mulhall-Orlando, I looked them up in Tipoff Magazine,” Henderson said. “I talked to Brandon Hight, who was the boys basketball coach and the athletic director at the time, and asked if this one’s dad was so-and-so and he said ‘Yeah’ to almost every one. Then I thought, ‘Man, that is wild. How often do you get to be 34 years in between stops and come back to coach a second generation.

“It was entirely special. Just to think, that all that time in between and you come back and get a chance to coach a second generation of kids. It was unique. I felt blessed to have the opportunity to do that, and I think it made my stay there that second time genuinely special.”

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