Henry seeing success after taking risk of playing lacrosse

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Junior defender Ellie Henry in Marquette women’s lacrosse’s 14-10 loss to Louisville March 14 2021. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Ask Marquette women’s lacrosse junior defender Ellie Henry to pick one word to define her time with the Golden Eagles, it might be a word that one would not expect.

“When I tell my story about Marquette, I literally say it’s a miracle,” Henry said. 

Playing lacrosse at the Division I level was considered a far-stretched thought for Henry, given she had only been playing the sport for six months when assistant coach Caitlin Wolf recruited her.  

“She was like I guess ‘we’ll take a risk on you,'” Henry said.

A native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Henry said she didn’t initially have any interest in playing lacrosse. 

“Late in my freshman year, the lacrosse coach came to one of my basketball games and she asked me to try out and I said no because I wanted to play soccer and basketball and college, I wasn’t interested,” Henry said. “Then she said that we would go to Florida for spring break and I was like ‘fine I will try out if I can go to Florida.’” 

While Henry started lacrosse later than most, she said she has put in the extra work to prove herself.  

“Being from Minnesota, lacrosse is already kind of behind compared to the East Coast,” Henry said. “I was behind and I relied a lot in the beginning on my athleticism. I remember getting up at five a.m. just so I could do extra wall ball because I knew I needed to catch up.”

Henry led her high school team to four-straight conference and sectional championships as well as three-straight state titles. She was honored as her team’s top defender two times and was a two-time All-American player.  

Last season with the Golden Eagles, she finished third on the team in draw controls, which are awarded to a player when she gains possession after the draw, with 23. 

Henry leads the team with 56 draw controls this season and ranks No. 8 in program history.

She said that one of the things she has improved on the most heading into season was leaning into her role as a defensive player.

“My instincts are to box out or how can I block someone to help. Learning how to track and find the ball better is the biggest adjustment I made,” Henry said.  

Marquette head coach Meredith Black said that Henry has been the most improved player that she has ever coached.  

“She is just a great athlete, her muscle mass, her body type, she is so coachable,” Black said. “She has learned how to communicate better with the drawer, and kind of know where the ball is going to go, and how to work with others on getting it.” 

When it comes to draw controls, Black said that Henry has mastered knowing how to position herself on those draws.  

“That is a skill that goes overlooked in our sport, but she has really mastered that and taken the time to figure it out,” Black said.  

Senior attacker Shea Garcia said she has seen Henry’s draw control skills develop as the team has focused more on draw controls this season. 

“It’s such a big part of our game in women’s lacrosse. I think she has learned so much more and there is a lot more communication in the circle,” Garcia said.  “She is one of the best players on our team and she is so confident but very humble.”

Henry’s time at Marquette has not been a straight path, as she has suffered two ankle injuries. She said during the time away from the game, it motivated her to get back to the field as quick as possible.

“Injuries suck but they put a lot of things in perspective, they give you so much motivation to get back on the field,” Henry said. “Now I have zero problems with my ankles which is amazing, we always joke around like I have bionic ankles now because I had an artificial ligament in one and the other one was cleaned out pretty well.”  

Black said that the injuries were tough for Henry, because she was still learning how to compete as an elite athlete at the collegiate level.  

“She is so powerful and athletic that she gets some nagging injuries here and there, she runs the most, I think managing her body and keeping it fresh is the biggest challenge for her,” Black said.  

Garcia said Henry made sure she was as involved with the team during her rehab as she would be if she didn’t get injured. 

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Henry said she has high hopes for the team’s play at midfield. 

“Our draw team is killing it. We want to be No. 1 in the BIG EAST in draw controls, we have already cracked Top 5 in the nation,” Henry said. “(Want to) stay consistently in the Top 10.”

Black said she sees Henry continuing to grow and succeed in her current position with the team.

“I have high hopes for her, she has the athleticism and the talent to be recognized nationally and by the conference for what she does,” Black said.  

This article was written by Kelly Reilly. She can be reached at kelly.reilly@marquette.edu or found on Twitter @kellyreillyyy.