Switch to another sport pays off

q&a: james hennessy, c. milton wright, volleyball

November 02, 2008|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Baseball had been James Hennessy's top sport until the C. Milton Wright senior found his niche in volleyball. Now, the 6-foot-1 outside hitter is considered one of the top all-around players in Harford County, recently leading the Mustangs to a 15-0 regular season.

In a recent interview, Hennessy talked about his passion for volleyball, which is largely unheralded as a boys sport throughout the rest of the state, as well as his plans for the future and his summer volunteering at a camp in Colorado.

How did you first get involved in volleyball?

Actually, a gym teacher told me to try out. Also my dad had played some, and he always loved volleyball. He liked it and I liked it, so I just went for it.

Harford is one of the only counties in the state to fully sanction boys volleyball. Because of that, you don't get the same kind of exposure as other sports. Do you feel a little left out as far as that goes?

It started that way, my freshman and sophomore years. But then our program grew a lot bigger in our school - a lot bigger than what volleyball usually is. Now, I get respect for playing volleyball.

What would you say your strengths are as a player?

Hitting and passing. They're my two main strengths.

Do you play other sports, as well?

My freshman and sophomore years I played baseball, then I played tennis last year. Baseball used to be my main sport, but now it's volleyball.

What is it about volleyball that you like most?

You're always moving and it's always a big play, no matter what. Every point counts. I love being able to spike the ball and put it down.

As a boys player, has it been difficult to find good instruction?

My freshman year I didn't get a lot of coaching, but then my current coach [Rob Lewandowski], he came in and completely changed the program around. I learned a lot of the fundamentals from him, and then we started a club team and he taught us more during the offseason.

Your team this season finished undefeated during the regular season. What was it that made this team so hard to beat?

We only lost two or three main players from last year. We had a young team last year, so we all have grown a lot in our skills, since we all play in the offseason. We also have grown a lot, so we've gotten a lot stronger.

Do you have any hobbies outside sports?

I'm really involved with Young Life, which is a Christian organization. I actually spent a month this summer volunteering at a Young Life camp in Colorado. I worked in a dining hall and served 500 kids a week for a month. That was basically my summer.

What's the goal of the program?

It's really to spread the Gospel and get other people to hear about God.

Did you come away feeling like you made a difference?

Yes. I grew a lot personally, and I saw a lot of people change their lives. It was really cool.

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