Joseph Henderson

Joseph Henderson

  • Year Inducted : 2010
  • Sport : Track & Field

About Inductee


The numbers are amazing and unprecedented: Sixteen straight conference championships in track and field, the sport he coached and loved most 11 straight conference championships in its companion sport, cross country three consecutive NCAA Division II national titles in track and field in addition to a national NCAA indoor championship seven Olympians, more than 200 All-Americans and 57 NCAA gold medal winners three-time NCAA National Coach of the Year the father of the womens varsity intercollegiate athletics program at Alabama A&M University. These are only a few of the accomplishments of Joseph Henderson in his 23-year career at A&M, during which time he served as an instructor, counselor, athletic director and, most famously, the head track coach of the womens team. Henderson was born July 7, 1937 in Prairieville, Ala, in Hale County. In high school at segregated U.S. Jones in Demopolis, he participated in football, basketball, track, softball, and choir and drama club. As a senior, he was the state champion in the high jump. Henderson went on to Alabama State University in Montgomery, where he played basketball, ran track and earned two degrees. He coached boys and girls track and assisted in football and basketball at U.S. Jones for two years before serving a two-year hitch in the U.S. Army. He then returned to teaching and coaching, first at Demopolis and then at Phenix City, where his basketball team played in the first integrated state tournament and his track team, featuring future Olympic gold medalist Harvey Glance, was one of the best in the state. Hired by Alabama A&M as an instructor in 1975, Henderson was also assistant basketball coach and head track coach for both men and women. I was given an old track shoe and told to go out and find myself a team, he recalled. He did just that, starting with four male students and one female, Kaja Traywick. As AD from 1977-79, Henderson expanded A&Ms athletic footprint dramatically, adding six varsity womens programs (basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field) and expanding the mens program by five (soccer, tennis, swimming, cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field). His womens track teams produced all those SIAC championships and seven Olympians, including medalists Jearl Miles Clark, Dannette Young Stone and Grace Jackson Small. Although he retired from collegiate coaching in 1995, Henderson continues to work with young athletes through his Huntsville Metro Track Club. He also owns a private drivers education school. He and his wife Mildred have two sons, U.S. Air Force Captain Titus Henderson and Joe Henderson.

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