Former Edwardsville High School standout Emmonnie Henderson is leaving the University of Louisville women’s basketball program.
But only for a year.
Henderson, a 2013 graduate of EHS and a two-sport athlete at Louisville, announced recently that she is putting her complete focus on training with the track and field program in 2015-16 with hopes of participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the shot put and discus.
“I wanted to take the year off from basketball, with hopes of returning, to focus on making it to the Olympics,” Henderson said. “It’s been a goal of mine, and I know I couldn’t do it without the help of coach (Dale) Cowper and coach (Jeff) Walz, so I’m very grateful to them.”
Henderson ranks 12th in the United States in the discus and 23rd in the shot put. Since her time in high school, she has increased her shot put by more than five feet and her discus mark by nearly 25 feet.
Henderson was a two-time Belleville News-Democrat track and field athlete of the year while at Edwardsville, where she won four state championships in the shot put and three in the discus. She also was a two-time Class 3A-4A News-Democrat basketball player of the year and a two-time first team all-state selection.
“I’m excited to have Emmonnie join us full-time for the upcoming year,” Louisville track and field coach Dale Cowper said. “She has seen tremendous progress over very short, competitive spring seasons during her freshman and sophomore campaigns. I am confident she will see tremendous gains throughout the coming year.”
Originally from Cahokia, Henderson enjoyed a breakout season with the track and field team competing at the 2015 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where she finished 14th overall and sixth among collegians, in the discus.
The track and field All-American set a school record this year, registering a personal-best throw/191-feet, 5-inches at the NCAA Championships to finish third. At the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships, she won both the discus and shot put — including a personal-best 56-1 in the shot put– to capture ACC Women’s Most Valuable Field Performer honors.
“Emmonnie expressed her goal of qualifying for a spot to compete in the 2016 Olympics,” Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz said. “I truly believe this is the best move for her. We always tell our student-athletes that we want to look out for their best interests, and I think the best opportunity for her to make it to Rio is to focus solely on track and field this school year.”
With women’s basketball, Henderson has played in 68 games in two seasons and averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. She tallied 25 blocks and 34 steals in that span.
Sports writer Dean Criddle compiled this story from information provided by the University of Louisville.