(KMAland) -- One of the state’s most successful cross country and track coaches takes his rightful spot in the KMA Sports Hall of Fame this year.
Atlantic’s Bruce Henderson coached in Atlantic for parts of four decades, capturing countless conference championships and seven state titles during his tenure.
Henderson first became interested in track as a young kid in Mount Ayr, riding to track meets with his dad. As he grew into his athleticism, Henderson competed in junior high, high school and in college at Northern Iowa.
“I tripled-jumped at UNI,” he told KMA Sports. “I was not really that good, but I learned a lot of valuable stuff that helped me in coaching. I even did one decathlon. That was the smartest thing I ever did because I had to learn all the events.”
Henderson took that knowledge with him to Atlantic, but his coaching career was put on hold when he was drafted into the military.
“When I came back, they were starting the girl’s program,” Henderson said. “(Athletic director) Rollin Dyer told me he wanted me to coach (girl’s track). I told him I only wanted to coach football and boy’s track.”
Dyer promised Henderson if he led the girl’s track program and had success, he could have the boy's track job when Bob Younger retired.
“At the end of the four or five years, the girls were starting to really get good,” Henderson said. “I just ended up doing that for a long time.”
And it worked out pretty well for Coach Henderson and Atlantic. The girl’s cross country program won eight conference championships, and the girl’s track program won it all but two years from 1980 through 2003.
During that remarkable run, Coach Henderson and the Trojans also won seven state track championships, including six in a seven-year span from 1998 through 2004.
“The first one (in 1983) was uncharted territory,” Henderson said, “and we were fantastically excited. The last one (in 2004), I sat down and figured out Mount Pleasant was 10 or 15 points better than us. Luckily, Mount Pleasant never figured that out.”
Coach Henderson will be honored as part of this year’s KMA Sports Hall of Fame class at a later date to be determined. Click below to listen to the complete interview.
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