Liberty AD Henard makes quiet exit

February 11, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Bob Henard didn't want much after dedicating 38 years of his life to high school sports.

All the Liberty athletic director wanted to do was finish out the current school year before retiring on a medical disability.

But Henard, 62, was informed last week by the Carroll County school board that damage to his lower spinal cord had become too dangerous for him to continue as athletic director and physical education instructor.

The board replaced Henard last Friday with former Liberty football coach John Magee, who is serving as acting athletic director.

Magee said yesterday an interim athletic director would be named to finish the current school year. Magee said the interim AD could be named as soon as today.

Henard said yesterday he had no hard feelings toward the county school board or Liberty principal Robert Bastress.

"They've been very, very good to me," he said. "There was nothing anybody could do about it. The doctors felt it was too much of a risk for me to be doing my job. It's just that I had hoped to finish out the year. I miss the place but I find it really difficult to go back. I'll go back when I get ready."

Henard injured his spinal cord in a freak accident Feb. 22, 1991, during a Liberty-Westminster basketball game at Liberty.

Henard, a slightly built man, got hurt when he walked under the bleachers in the gym to get to the other end to repair a malfunctioning scoreboard.

Henard made the ill-fated decision to avoid walking in front of the fans and team benches, figuring he would block their view of the game.

When he got under the bleachers, the fans started to jump up and down and Henard was struck in the head by angle iron, which supported the stands.

The blow from the angle iron knocked Henard out, split his head open and left him with a numbness and tingling sensation.

It was determined that Henard had suffered damage to his spine, and he had his third, fourth and fifth vertebrae fused together in the summer of 1991.

But he has been struck a couple of times during the current school year by errant volleyballs and faces more surgery.

Henard put his last day in at the school last Friday.

"It was tough to see Bob saying goodbye to everybody Friday," said Magee. "I've seen a lot of people come and go in this position and Bob was one of the really good guys. The school was his whole life."

Henard was trying to finish his sixth year at Liberty after spending 32 years being a football and baseball coach and athletic director in Illinois.

When he was informed Liberty had a reception in his honor planned for today, Henard said he would not attend.

"I just don't go in for those kind of things," he said quietly. "It probably won't come off anyway because of the snow."

Henard doesn't see himself as any kind of special person or a good guy. "I just loved my job and have to get over the shock of not being there," he said.

Henard is gone without fanfare, but it is the way he wanted to go out. It was just the timing that disappointed him.

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