Baseball was Brian Hendry’s first love, introduced to him by his father, the biggest influence in his life regarding the sport.
“He started teaching me the game when I was three years old, probably before that,” Hendry said. “He’s put so many hours in the cage, he’s caught so many of my bullpens. He’s just always pushing for me to be a little bit better. He knows my potential, I know my potential. He always wants me to be the best that I can be. He really just does everything for me.”
The senior right-hander from Medford, New Jersey, has pitched in big games with Perfect Game, a national baseball scouting and development program, summer travel teams, and as the No. 1 starter on his varsity team at Shawnee High School.
Hendry started out on junior varsity as a freshman, but he moved up his sophomore year and has become the de facto team leader, a title that has come with much responsibility and has forced him to be a leader amongst his teammates.
“I try to be vocal sometimes,” Hendry said. “I try to lead by example all the time. I’m always trying to help people. I’m always getting on people, but I’m never getting on too much. I try to let them figure it out themselves because if they can learn to do that, then maybe when I’m not around to encourage them, then they’ll be able to figure it out.”
High school baseball is a grind, as players practice everyday and travel to games after school. The close camaraderie that is formed helps players get through the long season.
“There’s no family like high school baseball,” Hendry said. “It’s competitive and crazy. The games are like nothing else, I feel. Grinding it out and seeing each other work and pay off on the field is just huge.”
Hendry has never been phased by big-game situations, one of the main reasons why he was recruited by and committed to St. John’s for baseball last summer.
“I had a good feel for what the school was about and I loved it,” Hendry said. “The coaching staff really welcomed me in and they made me feel at home.”
When he first started attending national showcases with Perfect Game, it took him time to adjust, but the higher caliber talent helped improve his pitching arsenal and mental toughness on the mound.
“It really gives you good confidence in yourself and it just really helps you stay motivated and push forward, trying to get better for the future,” Hendry said.
Along with teaching the right-hander the basics of the game, Hendry’s father taught him a strong work ethic both on and off the field.
“They [Hendry’s parents] would come home from a 12-hour work day and they’re still going to be coming home and making me dinner,” Hendry said. “They never left me out to dry. They were definitely always really hard working and that definitely translated to me.”
Hendry’s work ethic has set an example for others to follow, including his teammates at Shawnee.
“They’re learning from him, how he works out, how he conducts himself,” Shawnee pitching coach Kevin Boswick said. “He’s definitely made an impact on them.”
It’s also impressed the Shawnee coaching staff, especially Boswick.
“He just pushes himself all the time,” Boswick said. “He’s doing everything he needs to do, always doing extra reps. You can see that he’s a D1 player. He knows what it takes to play at the next level.”
Hendry has worked with Boswick since he moved up to varsity ball, and something that Boswick praised Hendry about is his poise on the mound.
“You could just see that he had a level of confidence that he went in and he gave it his all, and he was successful,” Boswick said.
His mental toughness is something that he developed from town ball days through high school when pitching was more unfamiliar to him.
“When I was younger, I wouldn’t say I was that much of a pitcher,” Hendry said. “I really didn’t understand the pitching thing, so if I let up something I would let it get into my head and let it get out of hand. Really working hard off the field, a lot of strength training, staying persistent and keeping it going really helps me on the field and gives me that bulldog mentality.”
Off the field, Hendry is an avid fisherman. He said fishing is a way for him to get his mind off baseball.
“My dad was a pretty big fisherman,” Hendry said. “He got me on that path. I sit there for five, six hours, and just relax. When I have a free day, I’m definitely on the lake.”
Now, with his senior season underway, Hendry’s goals are simple: win a state championship, the Diamond Classic, and leave a lasting legacy on the program.
“I know we can do it, we just have to do it and that’s the biggest thing,” Hendry said.