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Friendship, competitiveness push 3-sport duo

Grace Darcy
Seniors Jayden Henderson and Greg Davis have been friends since Foster Elementary. Throughout middle school and high school, they have competed together in football, basketball and track.

Jayden Henderson was only in middle school when he watched his best friend Greg Davis score a touchdown against Humble Middle School. Henderson felt happy for his friend’s impressive accomplishment, but couldn’t help the competitive nature in him that viewed the touchdown as a challenge to get better.

That friendly competition pushed Henderson and Davis through middle school and high school. At Kingwood Park, they competed alongside each other in varsity football, basketball and track. Their friendship has played a major role in their success as multi-sport athletes.

“It’d be hard to play all these sports by myself, or without a friend by my side,” Henderson said. “So when I’m doing my sport – and I know Greg’s right there – it makes it feel a lot better, makes me more comfortable with what I’m doing.”

Throughout their athletic careers, Henderson and Davis have changed positions and sports, but their friendship has always remained constant.

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“We always just have been hanging out with each other and everything,” said Davis, who first met Henderson at Foster Elementary. “So when we got to playing sports with each other, it was just like normal.”

Henderson takes a more serious approach to each game and practice, while Davis is more lighthearted in athletics. The duo has earned a reputation for the balance they bring to each other.

“Players like that – on opposite ends of the spectrum to some degree – level each other out and create a culture where the kids know they have to work hard but they can also have fun doing it,” basketball coach Kory Kaspar said.

The community the pair has built through sports continues to be a source of support throughout high school.

In sixth grade, Davis said he was diagnosed with ADHD. While struggling to maintain focus in the classroom, Davis found that athletics helped him focus. Balancing three sports has required keeping up with updates from coaches about practice. Davis also credits his teammates with helping him concentrate during games as they depend on each other.

“We know we can rely on him and he’s going to do everything that we could potentially ask of him,” Kaspar said. “I know that he would always run through a wall for me and I couldn’t ask for a better thing from a player.”

Sports has also created a key support system for Henderson. When Henderson heard the news that his grandmother had passed away during his sophomore year, he was devastated. The following day Henderson had a football game. During  football coach Clayton Maple’s pregame speech, Maple pulled out an arm sleeve for Henderson. Henderson’s father had the sleeve custom made with a picture of Henderson and his late grandmother.

“I cried a little bit, really didn’t want to play but then I just had to think about my granny,” Henderson said. “My coach talked to me and I went out and had a really good game. Even though it was hard, I still had a great game.”

After high school, Davis plans to enlist in the military and hopes to pursue welding in the future. Davis said he will miss playing basketball with his friends the most.

Henderson is committed to Angelo State University to play Division II football next fall. He will not be competing in track or basketball, and his coaches see it as an opportunity to improve.

He will experience his first football offseason without training for a different sport.

“That’s when he’ll find out exactly what his ability is, which is going to be a whole lot,” football coach James Showers said.

Although Henderson and Davis will be taking different paths in the fall, they are focused on finishing their basketball and track seasons strong.

They will cherish the final times they get to sit next to each other on the bus to games, walk around together at track meets and talk to each other on the bench.

“Greg definitely has been one of my best friends through high school,” Henderson said. “Ever since we started playing sports together, the same sports have been bringing us much closer. It’s been making our friendship really strong.”

This story was originally published on Park Times on February 20, 2024.