Athlete of the Week: Darren Hendricks

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2014 NSU Men's & Women's Track @ Hurricane Invitational

Maurice Greene once said, “To be number one, you have to train like you’re number two.” This applies to Darren Hendricks, junior communication studies major and member of the men’s track and field team.

Originally born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hendricks moved to Florida in 2000, which is when his love for track grew strong.

“It all started in middle school when I was playing football. I wanted to get faster so I thought track would benefit my speed,” said Hendricks.

Before Hendricks pursued track at NSU, he attended Suncoast Polytechnical High School in Sarasota, Florida. He was a member of the track and field and wrestling teams all four years, as well as the football team for three. He made himself known by being honored as a scholar athlete and a top thrower in the Sarasota area.

Greatly influenced by his parents and high school track and field coach, Hendricks has achieved goals that have surpassed his wildest imagination.

“My track and field coach in high school was the one who helped me reach my full potential. I’m still using the techniques he taught me and if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been involved in sports in college,” said Hendricks, “My parents pretty much keep me on my toes. They make sure I get out of bed to do my workouts every morning.”

During his freshman and sophomore years at NSU, Hendricks was recognized by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as an All-South Region honoree. His achievements include throwing a season’s best in the discus throw and marking the strongest hammer throw of the season.

There is no stopping Hendricks. His drive and discipline feed his passion for track.

“When I wear my uniform, I wear it with pride because I’m representing NSU,” said Hendricks.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Hendricks and learning the secrets behind his success.

What do you think makes a good athlete?

“A good athlete is someone who’s really into his sport. He is dedicated and takes time to work hard. When he sees a problem, he goes to his coach for help, and constantly works hard to fix his errors. Above all, a good athlete is someone a coach can rely on to do what he does best.”

What keeps you motivated to work hard every day?

“Beating my personal best and getting my name out there by improving each year.”

Which athlete do you look up to?

“There are a lot of athletes I look up to, but I would pick the Olympic and world hammer throwing champion, Koji Murofushi. I have the same background in sports as he did. I picked up track and field and had my parents encouraging me throughout the way. His dedication is what has earned him his title, which is the same motive I have.”

How do you think being a runner has influenced you as a person?

“It shaped me to be the best person I can be; it keeps me out of trouble and encourages me to get good grades. ‘If it weren’t for sports, who knows where I would be’ — that’s what my parents say. I picked up sports to stay in shape. I kept improving, and here I am today.”

What role do you think teamwork play in sports?

“It influences the building blocks of a championship. An athlete makes his way into a championship from the ground up working with the team. It’s not just a one-man show, especially for track. Not only does it build up to a championship, but it also creates a bond when team members work together and positively influence each other.”

Whats your favorite part about the meets?

“I look forward to giving the audience a great performance.”

How do you deal with a loss?

“When I lose, I still keep my head up. There are times when I think that I should have performed at a better level, but I’m never too hard on myself. I just relax and let everything flow and think about the positives and all the improvement I have ahead of me.”

How do you celebrate a win?

“With a win, I find it important to not get too confident. Winning is a motive to continue practicing and be one step ahead of the competition to make it even harder for them to catch up to me.”

What has been your most memorable moment in track?

“Winning district and regions after coming off my injury. I sprained my ankle three days before competition. I did not mess around during that time; I constantly iced my ankle. On the day of the competition, I was able to throw the winning throw. Another was breaking the record for discus throw last year.”

What advice would you give students who want to pursue sports in college?

“You definitely want to get started early because, as a beginner, you’re already behind all the other athletes. Get in contact with a coach and try out for the team. Follow the coach’s advice and work hard to get on the level of those already on the team. Never quit. The first few days are hard, but it takes time to get adjusted.”

How do you balance between school and sports?

“Even though I’m an athlete and I have to focus on my sports, school comes first, and that is my main priority. Any free time I have from sports I use to get my schoolwork done. When I have an early class, I go to the weight room afterwards. When I have a gap, I use it to get a chunk of my work done. I really just break everything down and set a schedule for myself.”

Do you think NSU sports play a big role on campus?

“It does. There are some sports that get more attention than others. When I first came to NSU, it was mainly soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. Now, all the sports are being looked at. We are role models for students. We’re also involved with the community by doing beach cleanups and working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

If you had the opportunity to play another sport, what would it be?

“It would be baseball because I have one heck of a swing.”

Do you have any plans with track and field after college?

“After college, my goal is to go for the Olympics in 2016, if not, then in 2020. I plan on continuing to push myself and getting better every year. I also want to coach younger kids who want to pursue sports.”

Photo Credit: E.Canal

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