Alumna Lacey Henderson Sets Sights as a Paralympic Long Jumper with World Championship team in 2023
A dream by alumna Lacey Henderson ’22 to become an athlete took a turn when she learned at nine that she had a medical condition. After experiencing pain and a limited range of mobility in her right knee, she received the diagnosis of Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, especially in children. She had an amputation and spent the next 12 years in remission before learning she was cancer-free. A remarkable life ensued.
Henderson Becomes a Cheerleader
Henderson’s athletic family supported her in easily blending back into her community. She reports the disability was not part of her identity. Among her triumphs was trying out for her high school’s cheerleading competition after watching the movie “Bring it On.”
Henderson Manages Stress of Being an Adult and Still Choosing a Dream
As her athletic career progressed, Henderson worked with a sport psychology consultant in 2015. The consultant was an integral part of her development as an elite athlete, teaching the young woman to manage adult stresses while pursuing a dream.
“Most athletes have to balance working full time to pay bills and support their sports journey, as well as manage relationships,” Henderson said. “My sport psychology professional helped me find the tools to manage life and sport.”
Henderson Prepares as a Paralympic Long Jumper
Henderson started on the path of track and field after a bet with her father, a former elite pole-vaulting athlete that she could compete in this sport.
“The director of sports with the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field recruited me. I started attending development camps and competing in events.”
Fast forward from that recruitment, and Henderson is proud to be an American record holder and Rio Paralympian.
She is an elite athlete who is honing her physical and mental prowess as she prepares to participate as a Paralympic long jumper with her sights on making the World Championships team in July.
Henderson Earns a M.A. in Applied Sports Performance and Psychology Degree from UST
She recently upped her game by climbing mountains for endurance and earning her Master’s in Applied Sports Performance and Psychology from UST. With the advanced degree, she wanted to help her performance and help others.
“Having a professor/advisor Dr. Lennie Waite who was also an elite athlete, was important to me because she understood that performance variables are different the higher up you go in competitive sports. I wanted to get an education in this aspect,” she said.
“I always share this degree program information with athletes I train because it is super accessible and hybrid (in-person and online) and the professors have been flexible about travel and training. Because of my schedule, I earned the degree 100% online.
Henderson is a Sports Performance Coach
Henderson wants to coach and advocate for other athletes with a disability. Today, she runs her own mental performance consulting business, Parallel Performance, and is active in her community with different athletic and professional groups.