Danielle Henderson (born January 29, 1977) is an American, former collegiate All-American, right-handed softball pitcher and current head coach originally from Commack, New York. She played for the UMass Minutewomen from 1996–1999 and was an Olympic champion for Team USA softball at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was also a pro champion playing four years in the National Pro Fastpitch from 2004–2007. Henderson then served as a private pitching instructor, and was an assistant coach with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2011-2012, and with the Stanford Cardinal for the 2013 season. She rejoined her alma mater UMass as associate head coach for the 2014 season. On July 30, 2014, she was named head softball coach at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Olympian Danielle Henderson Answers My Ten Questions
Written By Gary Leland
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I was in the 3rd grade when I started playing softball. I was 15yrs old when I first learned how to pitch
Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. I feel that everyone that has ever coached me has helped me get to where I am today. If my travel coach Kim Gwydir didn’t teach me how to pitch I never would have went to UMass. Playing with the Brakettes I had the opportunity to work with John Stratton who taught me how to move the ball
Q.How did you get ready for a game?
A. I try to treat everything like a normal day. I try to keep the routine the same for practice as I would for a game
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. I am obsessed with HGTV so when I have time off I am either doing some wood working or home renovations. I also enjoy going on long walks with my dog.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. I feel like my failures have influenced me the most. Every time I have failed at something the journey of getting back has taught me so much. It teaches you how to fight thru things and never settle
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. never wanted any superstitions. Didn’t want to feel like some outside force had any impact on the result of my play
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. There seems like so many to choose from but the one that sticks out the most is one of the first ones. It was the first time we went to the WCWS. We were in the losers bracket and because of rain the day before we would have to win 3 games in 1 day to go. I pitched all 3 games and the energy from the crowd is what kept me going.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. It is such an important part of the game, it will determine whether or not you succeed. There are a ton of great books out there to help improve on this area. You need to use it every day so it becomes part of your routine. Like anything else you do you have to practice it to get better at it
Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. Not doing as well as I would have liked after college. I lost all confidence and was feeling pretty bad about myself. It took years to get back to were I was mentally which affected me physically. I learned a lot during that time period and now it helps me to be a better coach. Being thru the highs and lows helps you relate to more athletes and help the ones before they reach that same point.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. Have my own show on HGTV or DIY network.
Danielle Henderson, Olympic gold medalist and a three-time collegiate All-American, was named Ohio State’s assistant softball coach this past summer. Henderson, the 1999 Honda Award winner, given to the nation’s top softball player, from the University of Massachusetts (1996-99) completes the staff of head coach Linda Kalafatis and former Nebraska All-American Ali Viola.
“Danielle had a terrific college playing career at UMass and also with the 2000 Gold Medal winning USA Olympic Team which I’m sure will lead to a terrific coaching career,” Kalafatis said. “She will work primarily with our pitchers to develop a young staff and will also be an integral part of our offensive attack since our hitters will be facing a great pitcher almost daily. Danielle’s experience as an Olympian competing with and against the best in the world no doubt helped shape her into the player and now the coach she is.”
Henderson, who has instructed individual and group pitching lessons the past six years after four years as an assistant coach at her alma mater (2000-03), brings the experience of facing the best talent from around the world and knowledge of the art of pitching to Ohio State.
“I’m excited to return to college coaching and join a strong Ohio State program that has been very successful,” Henderson said. “There is a ton of support for the athletics department and university and I’m looking forward to joining the Buckeye family. Ohio State and the city of Columbus are very supportive of their sports and I’m thrilled to be back in NCAA softball as a Buckeye.”
A member of the gold medal-winning 2000 U.S. Olympic softball team in Sydney and 2001 Women’s Pro Softball League Gold team, Henderson is considered one of the most decorated athletes UMass has ever produced, rewriting the softball record book in her four seasons on the mound. A four-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and a four-time A-10 Tournament Most Outstanding player, Henderson finished her career second all-time on the NCAA’s strikeout list with 1,343 in her four-year career. She was also the nation’s leader in strikeouts per seven innings in both 1998 and 1999.
Henderson, a native of Commack, N.Y., currently ranks first in the UMass record books in 14 career and individual statistics. In her career, Henderson is first in ERA (0.70), shutouts (72), strikeouts (1,343; 13th in NCAA history), no-hitters (14) and tied for perfect games with three. In a season, Henderson is first in ERA (0.39), shutouts (23), strikeouts (465), strikeouts in seven-inning game (18; three times), consecutive strikeouts (12), consecutive wins (26), consecutive shutouts (11), consecutive scoreless innings (105; NCAA record) and is tied for first in appearances (49).
After earning her bachelor’s degree in sport management in the spring of 1999, Henderson competed as part of the U.S. National Team that captured the gold medal at the Pan American Games and the Canada Cup.
As a player, coach and instructor, Henderson has accumulated several other impressive accomplishments and experiences:
Was the first player at UMass to have jersey retired (2001)
Inducted into the New England Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2002
Inducted into the UMass Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009
Was a member of the National Pro Fastpitch with Arizona Heat (2004) and New England Riptide (2005-07), winning a national championship and representing all-star team
Pitching consultant for local collegiate programs, including Adelphi University (2007-08)
“While she’s been out of college softball for a few years as a private instructor, Danielle has followed it closely. She told me she realized she missed the excitement of the game and the intense competition it brings,” Kalafatis said. “I believe her time as a private instructor has only strengthened her ability to work and teach the art of pitching and we’re excited to call her a Buckeye now. With Ali Viola and Danielle Henderson, I am proud to have two of the best to have ever played softball on staff here at Ohio State.”
Henderson has been a personal softball instructor in New York since 2004. She organized and marketed camps and clinics for all age groups and skill levels. As an assistant at UMass, Henderson created daily training programs for pitchers and team conditioning, recruited potential student-athletes, performed daily office tasks and supervised academic performance of student-athletes.