By: Erica Fatima
Jacque’ Henley, at this very moment, is somewhere in Italy playing football with the AFW (American Football Worldwide) ELITE high school team, representing the United States and his alma mater, Booker T. Washington HS.
Jacque’ was selected among hundreds of premier star athletes to play for the AFW ELITE team. The team is traveling in Italy March 19 – 27, and while touring this fascinating country, Jacque’ and his teammates will practice daily, preparing for the culminating event – USA versus the Italian national U-19 team in Milan on March 26.
APS Communications had an opportunity to interview Jacque’ before he headed to the airport;
APS Communications: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jacque’: I’m a pretty laid back guy. I’d say I’m rather humble; I do my school work, I keep a close group of friends and we chill. But, what many people don’t know about me is that I like to dance: jazz, modern, tap, and especially breakdancing [he said with a big smile].
APS Communications: How long have you played football?
Jacque’: I started playing “daddy-ball,” when I was eight. I say daddy-ball because my dad was my coach. I loved football from the first time I played. I used to get upset easily and I didn’t know how to express it; but when I was on the football field, I could let out all my frustration and aggression. My dad helped me channel that aggression, and use it strategically on the field. I love football. I think about football everyday, I’m passionate about it. I practice hard, learn the plays, and I’m constantly studying professional techniques; always with my number one goal in mind, to play for the Atlanta Falcons! It’s gonna happen, I know it.
APS Communications: What inspires you?
Jacque’: My dad inspires me. He pushes me to be great. When I think about him, I’m not just proud of him, its more than that; I appreciate and honor him. Oh, and my best friend Tommie Jones, he’s more than a best friend, he’s my brother. He encourages me everyday.
APS Communications: How were selected for the AFV ELITE Team?
Jacque’: It was my dad. He films my games all the time, and he decided to send in a compilation of my action on the field. I was shocked when we got the news that I was selected. I was so happy and a bit nervous too. When I thought about playing with people from all over the United States and in another country, with people that I’ve never met, I was nervous. But then I thought about it, and was like, this is just like the NFL…so get used to it. I’m proud to rep the U.S. and glad my dad submitted my film.
APS Communications: Any words of advice for incoming Washington HS freshmen?
Jacque: From day one, start off working! Don’t procrastinate about homework and your assignments. It’s real tempting to start playing around and lose focus; and if you do, that will cost you in the long run. Just do what you have to do and you can have a little fun too.
Comments from Jacque’s dad, Ellis Henley:
“It seems like just yesterday we were at my grandmother’s house, were I grew up and my grandmother would ask me; ‘Why is Jacque’ always in the room staring at your old trophies?’ At the time I didn’t think much of it, he was a little tyke, and I thought it was because some of them were taller than he and they looked like toys. It wasn’t until later that my grandmother realized Jacque’ was only interested in my football trophies. When Jacque` got older he started asking me to let him play, but I would always give him some type of challenge that, at the time, I didn’t think he could achieve. As an example; make all A’s on his report card, or if his teacher didn’t have to reprimand him, I would let him play. Really, I didn’t want him to play football, but he was so determined, and he met all my demands that I relented and let him play at the age of 8. Even though he had to play on the 10 and under team, he started every game running for 500 yards in his first year! I knew then that he was true football star. I’m so proud of all of my son’s accomplishments and of the remarkable young man he has become today.”- Proud Father of a Great Son.