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Made of Tough Stuff Hard work, practice pay off for Draper girl

Sep 08, 2015 03:54PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

Football

By Linnea Lundgren

Draper - If you think Marines are tough, you haven’t met their offspring.

Meet Maura Henry, the 11-year-old daughter of U.S. Marine Michael Henry. She plays competitive boys football, boys lacrosse and boys basketball. And when she’s not on the field or court, she works at a Draper vegetable stand for tips, pulls weeds, mows neighborhood lawns or sells lemonade outside her Draper home. 

“She’s the toughest of my four kids,” said her dad, who served overseas and was based out of Camp Pendleton near San Diego. A lifelong football player himself, he noticed his daughter’s interest in flag football at age 6.  “She was so tough, so aggressive that she was better than the boys who goofed off. She was very serious.” 

Maura, for her part, loves her sports trio because she enjoys running. So, she goes for positions that require that:  running back and linebacker, mid-fielder in lacrosse and, of course, basketball is constant running.

“I always like the sport that’s in season, but probably football is my favorite. I have a bunch of friends who I play with,” she said. “And, I love hitting people.” 

Her brother, 14-year-old Michael Henry II, plays football at Corner Canyon High School and  has nicknamed her “Peeps” because she can devour two packs of that candy in a day.  He recalled how she would hang out at his practices. 

“It was cool,” he said. “Peeps would jump right in and run through the drills. All the guys loved her.” She worked as the water girl for a while until she decided to play on her own team. “She’s always had a strong head.” 

But the going wasn’t always easy. “In every sport, kids were mean to me,” she said.  

Luckily, she is resilient. “I am here because I want to play the game,” she’d tell naysayers. Eventually teammates and coaches warmed up to her. 

“At every tryout, I make sure I work my hardest and do my best. I make myself stand out so the coaches will know I am good,” she said. 

Being good means practicing: one thousand dribbles a day during basketball season, football drills in the fall, cradling skills for lacrosse, and a daily two-mile run with her brother. She eats protein shakes, hard-boiled eggs and whatever her “great cook” mom prepares. During the season, sports often overlap and she has been known to play four games on a single Saturday.  

Maura’s heroes are her mom and dad, who have encouraged her to pursue what she loves to do and to do it well. Mom supervises homework while Dad handles the children’s life education based on his belief that hard work, respect and responsibility can take you anywhere. 

A lot is expected in their home, including earning money for school outfits and sports equipment. Good manners are a must. All Henry children, ranging in age from five to 17, shake hands with visitors and address adults as “sir or ma’am.” Shoes are removed at the door and everyone waits ‘til Mom starts eating before they do. 

“There are high expectations that we’ll do the right thing,” her brother said. 

High expectations for this year’s football season are on Maura’s mind now. She hopes to make some interceptions, more touchdowns and maybe even play as a receiver. But overall, she just has one goal:  “to do anything I can to help the team.” 

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