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Home-schooled baseball player to go big

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Josh Henderson, 18, doesn't go to high school. In fact, he is home-schooled with his younger brother, an eighth grader, and two other children by his mother, Sonya. Henderson plays baseball, and he's good at it.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Henderson was initially allowed to play high school baseball because the First Baptist Christian School allows up to half the team to be home-schooled. The team roster lists 11 varsity players, which includes the youngest of Henderson's five brothers, Chris, who's an eighth-grader.

The 6-foot, 180-pound, left-handed, power-hitting centerfielder has got the attention of quite a number of scouts, who are submitting names to their offices before the Major League Baseball's draft, beginning on June 4.

Henderson, along with 46 others players, was invited to the Perfect Game All-American Classic, located in San Diego, last August. This last fall, Henderson committed to Liberty University, if he chooses to play college baseball over going pro. However, it's been roughly a year since Henderson has been challenged to anything close to pro pitching.

"He can rake, power to all fields," says family friend Wayne Gomes, a former big-league pitcher from Old Dominion whose 11-year-old son is home-schooled by Sonya Henderson.

"Scouts are going off of what they saw last July, though, and they'd like to go off of what they saw in May. That's the dilemma a little bit."

There is also the concern of another scout who believes that Henderson will be drafted in the fifth to seventh rounds, yet is wondering how the young adult will handle pro sports. Although Henderson built a strong profile on the summer elite circuit by playing for the Canes, a known regional program, there is still question from the scouts.

"I know scouts are worried about that," Henderson says with a smile. "But I know in my mind I'm gonna be fine. I know God's gonna be with me, He's gonna have my back. I've been sheltered to a certain extent, but I've been out there a little bit, just to see enough."

"I love him," says Matthew Walker, First Baptist teammate who is also a  home-schooled senior. "Character is where it starts. If you don't have that character within you, you're just another baseball player. That's what sets him apart."

Henderson had hoped to follow in the footsteps of his four older brothers by going to Nansemond River. In Virginia, however, home-schooled students aren't allowed to join public-school teams, so in order to play at Nansemond River, he would have to attend that school. Which his parents didn't allow

"That was my dream since I was a little kid; one day I was gonna wear the red and black," Henderson says. "We talked about it. My parents prayed about it. And they just felt like this was the best decision for me. They felt that God was leading them to continue home-schooling me. You can't do nothing but respect that."

Steve, Henderson's father, excludes the idea that the decision of being home-schooled had sacrificed exposure to his son with the fact that the Miami Marlins are the only major-league baseball team that hasn't been interested in Josh this season.

"You know and I know school's not what it used to be," says Steve Henderson, a service helper for Dominion Power. "We felt like the Lord really wanted us to home-school these last two (sons), and that's what we've done. I kept hearing, 'You need to let him come to the River.' But God said, 'I'm going to showcase him,' and that's exactly what happened."

"The ball explodes off Josh's bat," says Norfolk Christian coach Mike Milligan, whose team recently played First Baptist. "It sounds fantastic coming off that wooden bat."

Henderson seems ready to play ball for money if the draft round and the promised bonus offer, under the stricter negotiating rules of baseball, hit his unknown targets. But Henderson could end up lower than he hopes due to having teams wanting him to prove himself by going to college for three years, before being eligible again to be drafted.

"I look at myself as the Tim Tebow of baseball. I'm home-schooled, and some people, some scouts, may doubt me because they see the competition I'm playing with," Henderson says. "But I know I can go out there and play, just like Tim Tebow. He knows he can play and he puts his faith and hope and trust in God. And he knows God's gonna carry him through his career."

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