Franklin College’s Henderson fighting for survival

As a basketball player, Carinne Henderson possesses a talent for rebounding.

Her tenacity and fearlessness are being tested like never before.

Henderson, a 5-foot-8 wing who recently completed her freshman season for the Franklin College women’s team, is fighting for her life after sustaining a serious brain injury in a motorcycle accident.

On June 5, four days after celebrating her 19th birthday, Henderson — referred to as Rin by family and friends — was off work early and decided to go for a motorcycle ride near her hometown of Sharpsville (10 miles southeast of Kokomo).

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She was riding on State Road 19 when a car pulled out in front of her at an intersection.

Henderson was wearing a helmet.

“The cops gave her about 12 feet of decision making,” said Quincy Henderson, Rin’s mother. “It appeared she tried to lay the bike down to the left side. Somehow the bike popped back up and threw her into the car.”

Rin Henderson wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse when first responders arrived. She was lifelined to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Aside from her brain injury, Henderson broke the humerus bone in her right arm along with her right hip, right femur, left wrist and multiple ribs.

Henderson saw action in 10 games last season, her only points coming on a 3-pointer in Franklin College’s 85-61 victory at Earlham in January. She had previously starred at Tri-Central High School, averaging a double-double for the Trojans (11.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg) as a senior.

Her country roots, southern twang and infectious personality were a welcome addition to the Grizzlies.

“She’s just really bubbly,” said Franklin College sophomore forward Jessica Nix, who sat with Henderson on the van to and from road games and would be the first to critique her singing along to whichever country tune they might be listening to.

“In games, I would come off the floor after committing a foul or something and Rin is always upbeat and is always there hyping everyone up. Her attitude … she has no down moments.”

The news of Henderson’s accident quickly made it to Franklin College coaches and players. They all felt as if they were the recipient of a shot to the gut.

“When it happened, it really hurt me,” Nix said. “It doesn’t seem real.”

“Honestly, I think I just said, ‘No,’” said head coach Dana Haggenjos, whose 2019-20 squad finished 17-9 for its best record in four years. “Our basketball team is a family, and I think of Rin as a daughter. For me, it was a matter of what can I do.”

Haggenjos and Grizzlies assistant coaches Chantel Poston, James Todor and Kevin Hamilton drove to Sharpsville the day after Henderson’s accident to lend support to the Henderson family in any way they could.

Moreover, Haggenjos organized prayer vigils during the first 72 hours after the accident.

Rin is the youngest of Craig and Quincy Henderson’s four children, following brothers Connor and Fredy, both 23, and Carson, 21. Quincy is a nurse at Howard Community Hospital in Kokomo; Craig, a retired Tipton County sheriff, now works at Reynolds Farm Equipment.

“Rin’s parents are great people, and she comes from a great family. She’s the baby and her mom is her best friend,” Haggenjos said. “We were grieving in our own way, but felt we needed to be strong for them.”

Daily drives from Sharpsville to Methodist Hospital and back, a 90-mile round trip, have become daily occurrences for Craig and Quincy as they closely monitor the health of their daughter.

They usually arrive at the hospital at 7:50 a.m. and leave at 6:30 p.m.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I ask a lot of questions and it’s my baby girl, so I’m struggling,” Quincy said. “We’re here all day. If Rin is having a really good day and is resting well, we’ll leave early. I think the earliest we’ve left is 5 o’clock.

“That’s the hardest part. The unknown. We have always been a faithful family. A believer in God. Rin’s faith is unbelievable.”

Recently, Rin Henderson has showed small signs of progress. She’s moved her feet and toes on command and blinked her eyes on command.

Nix isn’t surprised.

“Rin has always been a fighter,” she said. “She was fighting every day in practice and never giving up even though she wasn’t playing a lot. At practices, Rin was always giving her all.”

Haggenjos has witnessed Henderson’s toughness on the basketball court. Like so many of Henderson’s closest friends and family members, she prays for the best outcome.

“Rin is a goofy kid making jokes all the time. She talks with her twang and loves her family,” Haggenjos said. “If you want to laugh, you want Rin to be around. She’s very proud of where she comes from and is just a really neat kid.

“But give her a challenge and she’s going to rise up to it.”