LANARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) – Kellen Henze is the starting quarterback for the Eastland-Pearl City Co-Op, a state finalist golfer, utility infielder, baseball outfielder, but where it really shines is on the hardwood.
“I tend to prefer sports no matter what the season is, but overall I would say basketball is my favorite,” Henze said.
It’s because it’s a sport he’s been doing almost since he could walk. Her mother, Colleen, coached Eastland’s women’s basketball for nearly three decades, and her father, Karl, was the school’s first 1,000-point scorer.
“[My dad] likes to brag a lot, there was no movie when he was in high school so you never know if he’s telling the truth or not,” Henze joked.
“[Kellen]has been around basketball his whole life, in the gym since he was little when his mom was a coach, he loves the game and understands it from all that experience,” Eastland head coach Tyler Zumdahl said. .
“My mom taught me a lot about basketball and the fundamentals and some of the things that you don’t necessarily see anymore but are necessary to perform at a high level,” Henze said.
It’s not just his parents he’s suing. As the youngest of three children, he also tries to live up to his siblings. Her older brother Kaden was a college star at Eastland, and her older sister Erin led the women’s team to a 1A state title in 2020.
“Growing up over the years watching my brother and sister run this school really made me want to step into this role and it’s really cool to be a role model for the kids at this school,” Kellen said. . “With my teammates, they will always have someone to turn to. If their backs are against the wall, they know I’m right next to them.
This competition at an early age made him the athlete he is today. He doesn’t like personal accolades, he just wants to win.
“I think the most important thing is just competitiveness,” Zumdahl said. “Whatever it is, whatever the sport, you know he’ll be looking for a win or top of the leaderboard just because of how competitive he is.”
In a game against Forreston earlier this season, Kellen dropped a career-high 40 points. A few weeks later, in a home game against Polo, he had 38 in three quarters. With a big lead, he didn’t play fourth at all and finished two short of his personal best.
“I don’t really care about that stuff, I just try to get wins,” Henze said.
” It is totally true. He doesn’t look at the scoreboard wondering how many points he has,” Zumdahl said. “He’s just a player and he wants to win and he embodies what Eastland basketball is all about.”
As Kellen completes the final semester of his impressive high school career, both in the classroom and as a member of each of his sports teams, he hopes to leave a lasting legacy of hard work instilled in him by his community.
“I just want to set an example for the kids, hard work leads to success and if you want to be the best person and the best player that you can be on the pitch, in the classroom, on the pitch wherever it is, you have to work really hard for it,” Henze said. “Having this support behind me is so nice. Everywhere you look people are saying, ‘Good game last night’, or they’re encouraging you to work harder and that fuels the fire to make us better on and off the pitch.