04/14/2011 – Aquinas College tennis coach Jerry Hendrick has been named the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Coach of Character recipient. The Coach of Character Award honors a coach who demonstrates methods of teaching character through sport while instilling a tradition of athletic and community excellence.
Hendrick is first, and foremost, an educator. Whether he is teaching in a classroom, instructing the finer points of the game of tennis, or educating about life, Hendrick’s teaching spans 20 years and he is constantly helping others learn.
“Jerry exemplified the qualities for which this award stands long before the award existed,” noted Terry Bocian, Aquinas director of athletics.
The tennis enthusiast uses the sport to reach innumerable young people and their families through his year-round involvement with the game. In addition to instructing athletes in the finer points of the sport, Hendrick constantly teaches life skills so players can make an impact in their respective communities.
“I played for Coach Hendrick more than ten years ago,” said Scott David. “He was a role model for me then and still his today. When I exhibited less than appropriate sportsmanship, coach took time to share his thoughts in a positive way. His teachings stick for a lifetime.”
Hendrick wears many hats in his professional life. He is a tennis coach, an adult foster care licensing consultant for the state of Michigan, and an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University and Cornerstone University.
The diagnosis of Hendrick’s daughter with cancer offered him an opportunity to help others in a public forum. He regularly blogged about the pain, suffering, hope, and faith associated with the disease. The experience and perseverance serves as a guiding force in mentoring cancer patients and their loved ones. Author Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) published several of Hendrick’s blog posts about coping with cancer.
The coach raised more than $100,000 for cancer families with the Greater Grand Rapids Summer Tennis Classic and other fundraising events. He also takes pride that a youth is never excluded from playing due to lack of entry funds. His teams support the Salvation Army and were recognized for collecting an all-time record amount this year.
Hendrick has never sought fame or fanfare for his accomplishments. Rather, he is thankful to afford young people the opportunity to learn and grow through the game of tennis.
“Coaching is about service,” said Hendrick. “It is an honor and a blessing to be called coach and it is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.”