Playmakers: Stephen Croone ’16 and Hal Henderson ‘92

Playmakers, as we typically think of them, are the athletes who make the most of opportunities to impact the game and who create opportunities for their teammates to succeed as well. Stephen Croone ’16 and Hal Henderson ’92 truly know what it means to be playmakers, as they both have been playmakers for the Furman men’s basketball program. In fact, the two All-Southern Conference point guards boast similarly impressive stat sheets for their careers, though decades apart.

Different Paths, Same Journey
While Croone and Henderson have had comparable experiences in their basketball careers at Furman, their paths along the way look much different. Croone—a native of Covington, Georgia—was a late recruit for the Paladins. His first contact with Furman came in January of his senior year of high school. Croone received interest from several other schools, but he was quickly drawn to all that Furman had to offer. Three years later, at the beginning of his final season for the Paladins, he is confident that he landed exactly where he needed to be and that his future is brighter because of the path he chose.

Henderson, on the other hand, was familiar with Furman much earlier than Croone was. He grew up in the Greenville area and learned about Furman’s basketball program from an early age. His first basketball coach was the late Dan Pike, who had previously played and coached basketball at Furman. Growing up, he attended Furman games as often as he could and participated in the Paladins’ summer basketball camps. Like Croone, he received offers to play for other programs out of high school, but he knew that Furman was the best fit for him, offering prestige, tradition, and an impressive combination of academics and athletics.

Despite the different paths that brought them to Furman, their scholarship offers started them on the same journey. Athletic scholarships at Furman are much more than validation of athletic skill and the chance to continue playing. Scholarships create opportunities. Furman student-athletes have the opportunity to compete in Division I athletics, to receive an excellent education, and to grow as individuals through their experiences. So while Furman student-athletes are certainly playmakers in their sports, they are also playmakers in the classroom and in their communities. They take advantage of the opportunities set in front of them to better themselves and those around them. That is the true journey of a Furman student-athlete, and it is one that remains the same from generation to generation.

Croone could not be more grateful for the opportunities he has received through his journey. He is thankful to have had the opportunity to continue his basketball career and to be a playmaker on the court, and he recognizes that the other opportunities his scholarship has afforded him are just as valuable, if not more so. Through his experience at Furman, both on the court and off, he has learned how to be a leader, to persevere, to overcome adversity, and to build lasting, meaningful relationships. He has done this in an environment that has pushed him to become even more competitive. Furman is a place where everyone is the best at what they do, Croone says. The competition pushes him to be even better in all aspects of his life. In the end, he knows that this opportunity has not only benefitted his college years, but also prepared him for a meaningful life after Furman.

Likewise, Henderson agrees that his scholarship provided him tremendous opportunities as a student-athlete. He says that the true value of a college scholarship was instilled in him early in life. Raised by a single mother, he knew a scholarship—either academic or athletic—was likely his only chance at a college education. His youth coaches and mentors also taught him that a scholarship was more than simply a chance to go to college for free. Because of that, Henderson savored every opportunity he received along the way, through college and beyond. Henderson completed a stellar collegiate basketball career while earning a degree in political science and went on to play professional basketball in Europe. He later returned to the US and a successful career in the competitive world of pharmaceuticals.  What a journey. And it all started with a scholarship offer to play basketball at this small liberal arts school right in his backyard.

Redefining Playmaker
His own journey at Furman, Henderson says, is why he supports Furman Athletics as an alumnus. It is why he recruited other former basketball players to establish the Men’s Basketball Alumni Association to provide funding, support, and mentorship for the men’s basketball program. His journey is why he gives annually to the Paladin Club for athletic scholarships. Henderson wants today’s student-athletes—and tomorrow’s—to have even better opportunities than he did, and he is doing his part to make sure they do.

Through his support, Henderson is helping redefine what it means to be a playmaker. As a loyal supporter of the Paladin Club, he understands that when donors fund scholarships, they fund the starting point for student-athletes’ journeys at Furman and beyond. Paladin Club playmakers create new opportunities for Furman student-athletes to succeed in athletics, in the classroom, and in life. Without them, Croone and other student-athletes may not have the opportunity to be playmakers in their sports, to become Furman alumni, or to live out the future endeavors for which Furman prepares them. As Henderson says, by supporting Furman student-athletes and making an impact on their lives, he and other donors have a chance to impact the world.

When all is said and done, Henderson’s goal is to leave a legacy at Furman as a difference-maker. Like every Paladin Club donor, he is doing just that. Every gift is an opportunity for a student-athlete. Every donor is a difference-maker—a playmaker—in the eyes of those who accept these valuable opportunities. Just ask Stephen Croone or any of the hundreds of Furman students-athletes whose lives were changed when they became Paladins.

 

 When you give to the Paladin Club for athletic scholarships, you give for Croone…for the Paladins…for Furman. You can join Henderson and many other Paladin Club Playmakers by making your gift today. Visit www.furmanpaladinclub.com to find out how you can make a difference!