By Rob Patrick
Bryant Lady Hornets senior forward Tarra Hendricks has been playing soccer since she[more] was 4 years old. And she’s gotten pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that she earned interest from a number of area colleges about continuing her career at that level.
And, on Thursday, March 3, before she and her team headed to Bentonville for the Northwest Arkansas Invitational tournament, she made it official by signing a letter of intent to attend Central Baptist College in Conway.
“I really considered CBC, then JBU (John Brown University) was real interesting to me too,” she said earlier this week. “At first, UCA was a big option when I was younger but that just got out of the picture. UALR was one but, mainly, it was just CBC that I was really interested in.
“It was really when I went and visited their campus,” she explained. “I was drawn to how small everything was, the teacher to student ratio and things like that. Coach (Justin) Hawkins is really nice and I know a few of the girls that are playing on that team.”
Hendricks has been a key part of the Lady Hornets program all four years at the high school.
“Tarra’s a big asset to the team,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Julie Long. “Whenever she wants to play the way that she can play, she’s one of the best players that I have.
“One of the biggest things that CBC will get with her is just . . . I mean she hates losing,” Long continued. “She is a competitor. So she’s going to go out pretty much every time and compete at a high level to where she’s going to make a difference. When she’s in there, she’s going to make a difference in the game. Her presence alone will bring something to the field that most players don’t bring to the field just because she’s going to play so hard the whole time she’s in there.”
“I really do love the sport,” Hendricks asserted “And I think it’s just progressed since I’ve been in high school. You have that adrenaline rush right when the game starts. I’ve been playing with Katie Moore for so long and once you have a bond with your teammates, it’s like you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team too. I think that’s one of the things that just draws me to the game.”
The Lady Hornets have progressed every year that Hendricks and her classmates have been involved in the program. When they were freshmen, the team struggled to a 2-12 finish but when they were sophomores, the team improved to 12-9 and earned a bid to the Class 7A State Tournament, losing to Fort Smith Southside in the first round. Last year, they eclipsed the school record for wins, going 17-8 and won two matches at State before losing to Fayetteville in the semifinals, just a game away from playing for a State title. Almost everyone on last year’s team is back this season.
“When Coach Long came in, she really turned the team around,” Hendricks said. “We were kind of lazy at first. We didn’t really care as much. And Coach Long showed us how to be a team and how we should play. She just really taught us a whole lot. Not every high school team gets to have a coach as good as she is.”
“When I got Tarra — and she’ll be the first to tell you this — we butt heads along the way,” said Long, who took over as the Lady Hornets head coach before last season. “It’s been me keeping my thumb on her, trying to get her to where she’s playing to her full potential. When I came in I saw a player who — hey, she can play, but I’m going to have to stay on her all the time, whenever she’s going because, she knows, that sometimes she gets really down on herself. She’s really hard on herself and sometimes she’ll just shut down if things are going well. That’s been the biggest thing I’ve tried to develop and change in her. Soccer-wise, she’s had the attitude to go, go, go the whole time. The biggest thing has been just to keep her attitude where it needs to be and I’ve seen a big change in that since I got here. We still butt heads occasionally but we understand each other and she understands that I’m not doing anything to hurt her. She knows I have a reason behind all of it now.”
Tarra is the daughter of Tonya and Louie Jenkins, and Todd and Sue Hendricks.
As for her work in the classroom, she said, “I’m looking at being an athletic trainer or becoming a high school teacher and also being a high school soccer coach.”