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After Henry’s shocking death, Pace remembers, perseveres

first_imgTo see the effect Danroy ‘D.J.’ Henry had on a profound number of people, look no further than the 800 that crowded the Pace University gymnasium in his memory last Sunday. One by one, Henry’s friends and other Pace students told stories and anecdotes about how they remembered him best. ‘Danroy was very popular and had a lot of friends,’ said Joe O’Donnell, Pace’s athletic director. ‘I think the students that got up and said something were able to get some of the feelings they had out.’ Henry was shot and killed by two police officers Oct. 17 outside a bar in Thornwood, N.Y. His death occurred hours after Pace lost its Homecoming game to Stonehill College, a college coincidentally located in Henry’s hometown of Easton, Mass. Henry’s death has become a national story. There are highly conflicting accounts of the shooting from police and witnesses, and there are questions about whether proper medical attention was given to him after he was shot. Pace will take the field for its first game after Henry’s death this Saturday in a league matchup against University of New Haven. This is one of the first steps toward normalcy in what has been a hectic series of events for the Pace football team. Or as close to normal as it can get.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text O’Donnell said the team has taken steps to bring things back to the way they were. Last week’s game against Bentley College — which was supposed to be Homecoming in Waltham, Mass. — was cancelled. The players took Sunday and Monday off from practice after the death of their teammate and resumed practices Tuesday. O’Donnell said this was an effort to bring back the normalcy to which the team is accustomed. The last time Pace had to cancel a game was in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But O’Donnell doesn’t expect that normalcy to return soon. ‘There’s nothing in the makeup of college kids to handle something like this,’ he said. ‘Most people don’t experience the loss of a parent, brother or sister until later in life. To lose something like this, this is very dramatic.’ That Sunday night, a candlelight vigil was held on the football field. Immediately following the vigil, those students returned to the Pace gym to tell their stories. Stories of how Henry is remembered as a genuinely good-natured person. Pat Casey, a senior finance, accounting and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major at Syracuse, went to Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Mass., with Henry and played football with him for three years. When he first met Henry during their freshman year of high school, Henry was a much smaller person. After putting in time in the weight room year after year, Casey said he became fit and much more of an athlete. He said Henry always planned to play sports in college. A three-sport athlete at Oliver Ames, he constantly put in effort to succeed. After graduating from Oliver Ames in 2007, Henry did a post-graduate year to improve as a player and was recruited to play at Iona College. When Iona dropped its football program in 2008, Henry searched for a new team and found a home at Division II Pace, located in Westchester County. ‘He wasn’t insecure at all, he was comfortable in his own skin,’ Casey said. ‘He knew what he was capable of. He wanted to grow from that.’ Casey called him an inspiring figure. ‘He was one of those kids who really was working his a** off and really going hard, going out of his way to be nice to people,’ Casey said. ‘He showed appreciation for where he was in life.’ So Pace will show that same respect to its routine. For them, getting on the field each Saturday is normal. So at 1 p.m., when the game kicks off, some of that normal might return. That return to the field helped Connecticut after a similar tragedy occurred in Storrs last season. Almost a year to the day before Henry was killed, UConn cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed and killed at an on-campus event following the Huskies’ win over Louisville. UConn took to the field to escape the pressures surrounding the situation. ‘The games and practices were really healthy because it let you think just about football and nothing else,’ said Connecticut Associate Director of Athletics/Communications Mike Enright. ‘It’s a place to escape, if you will.’ UConn scheduled practices and press conferences in the days following Howard’s death at the same time they had always been scheduled. It wasn’t normal, but it was consistent. It helped to keep the team together. The team also emphasized the attitude of playing the remaining games the way Howard ‘would have wanted them to play football,’ Enright said. That is a sentiment that also holds true for the Setters. ‘The attitude is there. It’s a good attitude,’ O’Donnell said. ‘They want to play this for D.J., which will be normal. … We try not to get too emotional.’ After discussing with his captains, head coach Chris Dapolito thought this was the best move for the team. ‘We’ve talked to everyone, we’ve talked to the faculty,’ O’Donnell said. ‘The faculty has been absolutely wonderful in the ways they’ve tried to help the student-athletes get back to normalcy. If there is a normalcy after this.’ knmciner@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 27, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more

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