April 26, 2012
LOS ANGELES -
Middle blocker Charley Henrikson is the winningest player in Stanford men's volleyball history. Going into Thursday night's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament semifinal against BYU, the fifth-year senior has been part of 102 victories, making him Stanford's first Century player. The native of Lafayette, Calif., started 10 matches his freshman season in 2008, and has settled into a reserve role since then. Recently, Henrikson sat down for this interview with Gostanford.com:
Q: How has the program evolved since?
A: The program's definitely changed a lot since I've been here. (Late assistant coach) Al Roderigues was here, and Ken Shibuya came and John Kosty was starting out (as head coach). It was new for both Ken and John, so they were willing to accept change. (Assistant) Coach Chris McLachlin came in and added another twist to the program with the sports psychology and mental side of the game. So, I think all four of those coaches have really had a big impact in shaping the program to be what it is now.
Q: How do you think this program still carries some of Al's influence?
Q: Did that camp change your thinking about your future?A:
A: Al was actually the first person - my junior year in high school - who told me I could play in college. He was my coach in one of my summer camps here. It was me and (current teammate) Gus Ellis and (former teammate) Ian Connolly. I think we were all on the same team. Al was the coach. I think he just brought a real positive attitude to everything. One of his big things was `never apologize.' If you have to say `I'm sorry' after something, it means you weren't trying your hardest. If you tried your hardest, there's no reason to apologize. I think that still definitely rings true.
I didn't start playing volleyball until my freshman year in high school. I was a big, tall lanky kid who could jump, but I couldn't really do anything with it. I think, Al and Kosty and Ken all saw that I had the body for it and I was quick to learn. Coming to Stanford, I think I really improved a lot that first year. They gave me all the fundamentals and stuff that I hadn't received in high school. And my first year at Stanford was the most I improved - ever.
Q: You mentioned Coach Mac. Did he provide any tools from the mental side that you still use?
A: Definitely. When asked how he's doing, he would say, `I'm great. I'm having the best day ever.' I've tried to remember that in my time here. One of my Thought for the Days was I had an internship with a railroad one summer, and everyone there was always frustrated, and they were so busy. When they asked how I'm doing, I would say `Great. I'm having a great day.' Later that same year, I discovered they were doing the same thing. Whether it's volleyball or elsewhere, being positive makes a big difference.
Q: How has this season gone for you?
A: It's definitely been a challenge this year. I haven't played as much and I've been to grad school and graduated. A lot of stuff I've put behind me and volleyball's one of those things that's still there. These last few weeks, I've been able to focus on just volleyball. The reason I tell myself I play volleyball is because I enjoy playing volleyball. I came here when the team was 3-25, and now it's Stanford caliber. It's fun to win championships and everything's great, but it's fun to come out here, which is really what brought me here in the first place. I try to think of that every day to keep myself motivated.
Q: You graduated last year and have your master's?
A: I graduated last June, and I graduated co-term April 5.
Q: What's your undergraduate degree in?
Q: And that's your master's in?
A: Public policy.
Q: Do you have a job lined up?
A: I'll be doing economic consulting in Menlo Park.
Q: What was your focus in public policy?
A: Actually, I didn't have any focus or trajectory, or anything. It was analytically focused, and evaluating policies.
Q: Does anybody here ask for financial advice? Or ask you how to win the lottery?
A: I get asked that kind of stuff a lot. My answer's always: If it was a good idea, somebody would have done it before you. If you have a small startup that's amazing that somebody's invested in, it's a good idea. If you think playing the lottery is a good idea, than Bill Gates would have put all his money in the lottery. I enjoy economics. Finances is more (teammate) Dylan Kordic's alley.
Q: Are there games that stand out in your career?
A: The games that stand out for me were from my freshman year: Alberta, UCLA, Irvine, and USC. Those were the first four games that I stated. When we were going to Alberta, I was absolutely terrified. I lost all my mental focus out there. I'm not sure what to do. Lost all my fundamentals. But I hit .500, got an ace and a dig. One of the articles on gostanford.com quoted Kosty as saying, `one of the best things that came out of today was Charley getting to play.' Those few games were the highlight of my career, in terms of my personal play. And then, throughout time, other guys stepped it up and I've seen less of the court, but I've seen the team win the national championship. That was the highlight from a team experience.
Q: What is your vertical leap?
A: After freshman year, I touched 11-6. It's the highest I've ever touched. My reach is probably 8-6 or 8-7, so three feet. It's gone down since then.
Q: What do you think you're going to take from the sport of volleyball when you go into the workplace and start your own life?
A: The big one's just working with the team. I'm lucky I have a lot of people I get along well with on the team. There's always some time when there's one person you don't get along with quite as well. But this taught me to work stuff out with them, and then you're going to be more successful in relationships or in your workplace if you're willing to overlook those small differences and create a strong team atmosphere.
Q: Do you feel Stanford has an opportunity to do something special as a team?
A: If we all play well, we can beat anybody, no question. We have beaten pretty much everybody, so, I think if we can click through the next few games to the national championship, we can absolutely win it all.