Beyond Léman: Emmett Hendry ‘21
April 12, 2023
Last week, Emmett Hendry ‘21 accomplished something most college athletes only dream of. Alongside his fellow University of Connecticut Huskies, Emmett became one of this year’s N.C.A.A. Champions, claiming victory over San Diego State. We sat down with Emmett to discuss his love of basketball, advice he has for student athletes, and his favorite memories from his time at Léman. Thumbnail Image Credit: Courtesy of UConn Athletics
Tell us about your journey after Léman
After Léman I got recruited to play for a fifth year at a national powerhouse academy called Montverde Academy. I packed my bags and moved down to Florida where I had a pretty successful season winning a championship there as well. This led to my recruitment to UConn and now I’m a national champion.
Congratulations on becoming an N.C.A.A. Champion! How does it feel?
It feels very surreal. Honestly, it almost feels like winning another game. Obviously the celebration is bigger, the stakes are higher, the game means more, but the preparation is no different than any other game. We spend nine to 10 months practicing and preparing for every game with the ultimate goal of winning the national championship. Knowing that all of those hours, not only at UConn but my whole life, have now really paid off. Being cemented in basketball history long after my playing career is over just feels so unreal. Basketball is my favorite thing in the world and to be able to accomplish something of this magnitude is just so unbelievable.
Credit: Courtesy of UConn Athletics
What inspired your love of basketball? Would you say Léman’s Athletics program supported that passion? If so, how?
I started playing basketball when I was four years old and just loved it from the start. I watched and studied it constantly. I was actually a bigger baseball fan but I enjoyed playing basketball more and as I got older I fell in love with every detail of the game. I come from a big sports family and was exposed to high level basketball at a young age. Watching those high-level guys play, I always wanted to compete with them and show that I can play against anybody. I think Léman Athletics definitely supported my passion for basketball. Coach Laffitte was a huge basketball fan, we used to talk for hours about the game and he was always willing to help me practice.
As a recent Léman grad, how did Léman prepare you for college? Are there any classes or moments in particular that come to mind?
Léman offers amazing academics. The teachers are truly high level. They prepared me so well for college. I think that there was freedom in the classes a lot like there is in college. You were responsible for your own work and had to get it done just like in college. The teachers were always there to help but there was a sense of self-responsibility which is just like college. I actually reached out to my economics teacher at Léman because her class was just pretty identical to the course I’m taking in college and the difficulty level was also similar (her class might have been more difficult, but don’t let my professor see this.)
How are you enjoying your experience at the University of Connecticut?
I love the University of Connecticut. The Northeast is such a great place to live and the campus is stunning. The academics are top-notch and that was important to me when picking a school. My mom always made sure I was doing well in school. You can’t play basketball forever. So, I’m getting the best of both worlds here.
What advice would you give to student athletes?
I have a few pieces of advice to give to student athletes.
First, I think it's important for them to realize that a championship of any kind isn’t entirely won on that night. We have a quote by Muhammad Ali in our film room, “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights. It’s all about the work you put in leading up to the game. The choices you make to put in extra work or not. To sacrifice yourself for the team or not. Those decisions and the work you put in years before you have an opportunity to win a big game truly decide the outcome. I believe that we worked harder and practiced harder than any team in the country. The world comes full circle and we got rewarded for that.
Secondly, anything is possible. I’m sure you’ve heard that your whole life but it really is true. Take time by yourself to understand that if you want to do amazing things in your sport, you can.
What is your favorite memory about attending Léman?
I think my whole final year was my favorite memory. I remember becoming close with my teachers, specifically the arts teachers on the top floor where I had my advising class. I remember we talked a lot about life and all the big goals that I had. They always listened to me and never put me down. I’m not sure if they know how much that means to me but I’ll truly never forget that. A lot of people have doubted me and tried to get me to quit on my dreams but those teachers never did.
During my last year at Léman, I made some very close friends who I still keep in touch with today. Léman provides the opportunity to become friends with people from all over the world and all different backgrounds. That’s probably one of the greatest things I could ever be exposed to. I’m forever thankful for my time at Léman.
Credit: Courtesy of UConn Athletics