Joe Henain
Joe Henain, #23 on the Men's Basketball Team. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)
MSMC Knights: Work Hard, Play Hard

by John Buckridge

Some talented athletes have honed their skills their entire lives: Tiger Woods, for instance, who has perfected and honed his skills from a very young age. Sometimes, though, an athlete may not notice his hidden talents until later on in life, and when he does discover his abilities, he can find greatness.

Until the 10th grade, Joseph Henain of Hopewell Junction, NY, primarily considered himself a baseball player for John Jay High School. That was until the basketball coach took notice of his 6 “8” frame ideal for playing basketball. Joe had never touched a basketball in his life, but took the coach’s word for it and joined the team.

After two years of hard work and riding the bench, this former baseball player saw himself evolve from a two-year bench warmer to captain of the Patriots basketball team. The title was not given to him randomly; he worked hard and improved his game, scoring a 200-plus point season.

For his efforts, he even made the All-League First Team, and participated in the Exceptional Seniors Game. His schoolwork was recognized that year as well when he made Academic All-County.

Joe explains that he will always love baseball and does miss it at times, but he just fell in love with basketball. He had improved at this new sport fairly quickly and performed better than he ever did in baseball.

“It’s just more exciting and has more action,” Joe says. “I like that it’s just you against your guy out there.”

On his incredible final high school season, Joe says, “It was such an awesome senior year, especially since I barely played at all the seasons before that.”

Joe knew that college would be a new mountain to climb; he’d have to prove himself if he wanted to get off the bench. He came to the Mount, and enjoyed a solid first year, starting 25 games as a freshman. He showed potential by recording 49 total points, but Joe knew he could improve just like he did in high school.

Joe pushed himself in his sophomore year, appearing in all 30 games and recording 125 points, 76 more than his freshman year. His rebounds per game also went up and he led his team with 34 blocks.

That year, Joe’s academic efforts were acknowledged when he was named Skyline Conference Scholar Athlete.

“Basketball is definitely a huge passion of mine, but academics always comes first,” says Henain, “and Coach Kadlubowski is very understanding of that.”

After Joe’s sophomore year, star seniors Kevin Milella and Carlos Valdez graduated. Henain saw their absence as an opportunity; Kevin and Carlos had been the leaders of the team, a title that Joe sought to take over.

“I am super competitive and always wanted to beat my teammates in practice, but I enjoyed learning from the best and they definitely made me better,” Joe says.

In response to the added pressure, Joe intensified his training. He spent time in the weight room, conditioning, constantly shooting around, and joining summer leagues. He took a holistic approach, eating right, and abstaining from alcohol.

Saying that Joe’s extra hard work paid off would certainly be an understatement: he put up a staggering 325 total points, 257 total rebounds, and 25 steals. His 68 blocks were good enough to be a new program record.

In addition to the impressive stats, Henain was named to the Skyline All-Conference Second Team as well as being selected to the inaugural Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which recognizes student athletes for their outstanding efforts on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. Joe was one of just ten players across the country to receive this honor and was flown down to Atlanta for the NCAA Final Four Tournament where he was recognized on the court.

The 2013-2014 season would be Joe’s last as a Knight. It was important to him that he go out with a bang his senior year, but duplicating his junior season would be difficult.

Not only did he match his junior-year numbers; he surpassed them, proving once again that hard work brings improvement. Joe reached career highs in total points (345), total rebounds (294), assists (35), and field goals (133). He also recorded 71 blocks, breaking his own recently-set program record of 68 blocks.

“I was extremely proud of that because I pride myself on my defense. Defense is key in winning and at that point blocking had become my thing,” Joe reflects. “My height made it easy for me.”

Joe’s final season came to an abrupt and disappointing end when the third-seeded Knights fell to Kean University in the quarter finals of the ECAC Men’s Tournament. Joe admits that it was, and still is, very emotional.

“It hurt a lot,” he says. “It’s something I’ve focused on everyday for the last seven years of my life, and now it’s gone. I loved playing, I loved competing, and I just love the game.”

Joseph Henain’s basketball career may be over, but the road to success continues. He has been able to maintain a 3.75 GPA in his pre-med, biology major. The son of a physical therapist and a pharmacist, Joe says he always saw himself one day being in the medical field. His strong fondness for science made it his favorite subject in school.

“I love how logical it is, and it makes sense to me. It’s very structural, if you can understand the basics of it, I feel like you can figure out anything,” he says.

Even though he makes it seem easy, Joe admits that juggling athletics and academics has been very tough. Joe made sacrifices to stay focused, and explains that it takes a lot of patience and time management to get through it.

Joe spends some of his limited free time participating in community service. He has participated in the Midnight Run program since he was in high school. Based in New York City, Midnight Run aids in feeding and clothing the homeless around the city

After his time at the Mount, Joe plans on becoming a doctor in primary care, but wouldn’t mind general surgery as a second choice. He has accepted that there is a lot more to be learned and a lot more schooling ahead of him post-graduation. Joe has already been accepted to start attending Albany Medical College in the fall where he intends on graduating with a medical degree after four years.

Joseph Henain has demonstrated that he is a special individual. With his moral background and a good head on his shoulders, he has accomplished a lot. Joe has no plans of slowing down. It is his drive and hunger for success in all aspects of his life that continues him down the right path.

Raised in a conservative Christian household, Joe was taught to live by three simple rules: love God above all else, love your neighbor as you love yourself, and maximize your potential. To sum up his ride thus far, Joe quoted a verse from the Bible:

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13