Meet the Rush’s Lauren Henderson. Known for sporting the red gloves, you may have seen the number 10 on the back of her jersey as she blitzed down the ice. Following her rookie season with the Rush in its inaugural year, and an appearance at the Junior World Ringette Championships, Lauren continues to be a threat in the opposing team’s end and play an important role in the Rush’s offensive attack. Did we mention that she is also one of the captains leading the Rush squad this season? With her second NRL season under way, Lauren brings enthusiasm, experience and knowledge to the game from her 16 years of playing ringette.
What do you love most about ringette?
When I was little, I tried all sorts of sports, but the reason why ringette became my favourite sport is because of the speed. Our game is so incredibly fast, unlike any other sport I have played. The nature of our game forces you to continuously be on the move and to react quickly.
What teams did you play on prior to joining the Rush?
I have had the privilege to play for some incredible teams and meet some amazing people. Last season, I was fortunate enough to play for the Junior National Team, and we won gold at the World Ringette Championships. I also had the opportunity to play in the Canada Winter Games for Team Alberta the season before, which was an incredible experience. Finally, I have been lucky enough to play for St. Albert Ringette for 14 seasons, and be a part of U19 AA Mission team when we first started that program. With these opportunities, I have learnt lots, but one of the biggest lessons for me was that passion will always trump skill. Having been a part of two inaugural seasons for both U19AA Mission and with the Rush, I have learnt that while skill is a good asset, passion drives success.
You helped coach the U17 Zone 5 Wildcard team at the 2016 Alberta Winter Games, and you are currently coaching the St. Albert U14AA Mission this season. What made you want to get involved in coaching? What do you like most about it and what do you find the most challenging?
When I was younger I had a player coach who assisted with our team, and I could not thank her enough for everything she had taught me while being my coach. She taught me the game, but was also a huge mentor and role model for me, and still is to this day. I chose to coach so that I could be the same for younger athletes, and it has to be the most rewarding experience of my life. My main goal in coaching, however, is to keep girls in our sport for as long as we possibly can. Ringette has taught me so many valuable life lessons, and so I want to create an environment that encourages these young athletes to continue to play and continue to love the game. The most challenging part is understanding your players and how they learn best. However, coaching has also taught me so many things about the game, and has made me rethink and better understand the game.
What are your thoughts after the Rush’s inaugural 2015-16 season?
I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished collectively. I think we have built a strong foundation, and becoming more competitive each and every game. It’s hard to start a team in any league, let alone in the NRL. It takes determination, and resiliency, and most importantly, passion for the game. This team was created to give more athletes the opportunity to play at this level, and to grow the sport. I am proud to be a part of it and grateful to be able to play in this league with and against some incredible athletes.
What lesson have you learned after your first season in the NRL?
Likely the biggest adjustment for me was utilizing change of speed. Coming out of U19, it was my game was all about speed, quick rushes, and blitz attacks. At this level, it is more about control, and deception. Going one speed all the time, even if it’s full speed, is easy to defend against. The NRL has taught me the importance of slowing it down as well once in a while.
What advice would you give to athletes aspiring to play in the NRL?
One of my favourite sayings is : “If there is a will, there is a way.” If you truly want to play in the NRL, you will. It just takes drive, determination and effort. Find your WHY and use that to motivate you.
What do you do outside ringette?
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce Co-op Degree at the University of Alberta. For my co-op term, I am working full time for the federal government with public works in the Real Property branch.
Something you might not know about me is: Before every game I juggle to get my hand eye coordination going, and because it’s simply fun to do.