Short Story Of My Mentor/Coach: Clayton Hendrix
It was the summer of 2012-2013, when my friend Austin invited me to Spring Creek Assembly of God Church. A bus picked us up; a man named James was the bus driver, he was pretty cool. On the way there, Austin was telling me how they get to play basketball and football and eat snacks. When we finally pull up to the church I see two guys playing catch in the field behind the church, so me and Austin got out to play with them. One of the guys was the youth pastor named Phil and the other guys name was Clayton Hendrix. I introduced myself to both of them, and Clay asked us if we wanted to play with them, me and Austin was like “Heck yeah man!”. When service started I sat next to Clay and Austin because i didn’t know anyone and it was my first time attending that church.
Clay at the time knew a lot about church and God, while I only knew bits and pieces. Me being the curious person I am tended to ask him a lot of questions. (During this time I did not know how me and Clay would stay connected through out that particular year).
Throughout Middle School, I began to hang out with Clay a couple of times a week. It was kind of weird because I was like 13 and he was like 19 going on 20. I couldn’t do most of the stuff he did because of my age. As i got older, I began to build this really strong bond with Clay. I looked up to him, I thought of him as a big brother who I can come to in my time of need. He was there for me every single time, more than my own father…shockingly. Throughout the years of Middle School and going into High School, Clay took care of me. He bought me food when I did not have any money. I would go out to eat with him and his wife Jenn ( I could write a whole essay on Jenn). He picked me up to go do stuff with him when I didn’t have a car, He gave me reassurance when I was at my lowest point in life. He was there by my side at church when I cried. He was just there for every moment and i really don’t know how to repay him.
Heading into Junior year of High School when I attended John Marshall High I got a spot on the Varsity and JV basketball team. I let Clay know when I played and he would be there, supporting me if he could make the game. It is crazy because he would attend some of my basketball games going all the way back to Middle School JV basketball and when I played AAU ball my freshman year in High School with Sanctified. I had a pretty up and down junior year of hoops, it could have gone better.
Fast forward some months and Clay decided to form an AAU basketball team called Flight Squad. I was a Junior going into senior year. During the era of the Flight Squad team, I also played my last year of basketball with JM on the varsity basketball team. Unfortunately I ended up leaving the team because of the coaching staff. I began to play full time with Flight Squad. We had this small groups event we use to do at Clay’s house called Flight Groups and it was basically the team having a mini church service at Clay’s place. Flight Groups was fun, it bonded the team together. During the whole season, Clay pushed me to my best abilities, to become a better basketball player and leader. He let me play how I wanted to, and he did not limit me to one guard position. I was comfortable playing for him, on his team I felt and played like a 91 overall player while feeling like a 69 overall player for JM. Towards the end of the AAU season I told him I was trying out for University of Central Oklahoma’s basketball team. He trained me to the best of my abilities. Long story short… I did not make the team, but Clay believed in me when no one else did.
Fast forward to when I graduated High School in 2017, Clay, Jenn, and their daughter Camila were their cheering me on. That day had to be a top 5 moment in my life. That following summer, Clay and his family moved to California. I was sad I am not going to lie! While Clay was gone he taught me the meaning of being a man, a religious man matter of fact. I used that mindset going into college where temptations flared and self care was a must. We kept in touch the rest of the year in 2017, and we still do to this day. In conclusion, if I’d never agreed to go to church with my friend Austin, and began to hang out with Clay all those times there is no telling where I would be today. Honestly I would probably be six feet under because the crowd I was hanging with was leading me there. Clay showed me a different way. It’s amazing how God works huh? I appreciate you a lot bro! Love you man!
Ya boi, DeAndre Crisp