UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Henry strives to hit 'moving target' of success

FB_110808_Henry_Aaron.jpgThere are two wrist bands on his right hand, and two on his left.

Each means something to Aaron Henry, the UW's senior free safety.

"They constantly remind me of my faith and the reason I play the game,'' he said.

On his right wrist, there is also a worn piece of string.

"Been wearing this one for two years,'' he said. "It's kind of falling apart.''

This one is a constant reminder of the competitive sacrifices and challenges that Henry confronted while participating in the Ultimate Training Camp, an Athletes in Action sponsored event.

This one has less to do with being a believer, and more to do with being a competitor, Henry was saying during Sunday's Media Day on the artificial turf at Camp Randall Stadium.

There's nothing fake about Henry, who wears his heart on his sleeve ... and faith on his wrists.

During his 30-minute presentation to the assembled press corps, UW head coach Bret Bielema said, "Aaron is a great kid; I love him to death. I wish I had 100 of them (like him).''

In the next breath, though, Bielema mentioned that Henry struggles a little bit with criticism. "He's very resistant to being told that he did something wrong,'' he said.

During a recent team meeting, Bielema addressed the players on four training camp objectives. On a daily basis, he wants them to "Earn it ... Accept it ... Believe it ... and Get it.''

On a different theme, Henry also had a chance to speak to his teammates.

"But during his talk the other night he made a reference to one of the things I talked about -- accepting it,'' Bielema said.

"One of the things Aaron said to the team was, 'I'm someone who doesn't take criticism well. But I know that my coaches aren't trying to tell me something wrong.'

"To me, if he can get over that hump and really accept 100 percent coaching, we could be in for something special.''

During Sunday's media assembly, Henry agreed to interpret the four camp objectives.

"To me, it meant exactly what Coach B said,'' Henry pointed out.

Earn it.

"A lot of times some people can feel like they're entitled to certain things in life,'' he said. "But nothing is given to you, no matter what it is. You have to go out there and earn it.''

Accept it.

"Once you've earned it,'' Henry said, "it's truly up to you whether you want to accept it. Some people can be doing really well on the football field or really well in the classroom ...

"But they still haven't come to that realization. It's like, 'I can't believe this is happening.'

"I think back to when I had a little bit of success last year, I was kind of shocked. I was like, 'Wow, coming the route I did with all my knee injuries, then having the season I had ...

"I truly couldn't accept it yet. I was stuck in the moment. I couldn't believe it was happening.''

Believe it.

"Eventually towards the latter part of the season, I started to believe it,'' he said.

"Even going into this year, I'm starting to believe it. I'm starting to believe in my abilities. I'm starting to believe in the coaching. I'm starting to believe in the players that I'm playing next to.

"Now it's up to us to go out and get it -- go out and take what is ours.''

Get it.

Henry got it.

"What Coach B was truly getting at,'' he said, "if you really want something, nobody is going to hand it to you. Nothing worth value is going to be handed to you so you have to go out and get it.''

A couple of years ago, Henry had trouble accepting the move from corner to safety. Sunday, he revisited that difficult transition to bring additional depth to the conversation.

"I was not at all happy about going to safety; I didn't accept that,'' Henry said. "I didn't understand what Coach B was trying to do. I didn't look at the big picture.

"Coming off a knee injury, I felt like I could still play that position. I had been doing it my whole life; I had been a cornerback. I've been on the island every single day of my life. That's how I liked it.''

Henry recounted how he resisted making the move to safety when he was in Pop Warner football after the coaches thought he was too big for corner. The same thing happened in high school.

"I was really in my comfort zone,'' Henry said of his early years at UW. "But Coach B felt like we needed a change. We had a whole bunch of corners and we had three or four safeties.

"He made the call. I didn't like it. I was kind of going against it a little bit. But I eventually accepted it and I truly love the position today, I truly love playing safety.''

A year ago, Henry noted, a guest speaker said something to the team during training camp that still has application; maybe even more so considering the expectations for the 2011 Badgers.

"The speaker said, 'Success is a moving target,''' Henry recalled. "A lot of times when people become successful they think they have arrived.

"A lot of times when you've experienced success, you think it's supposed to come naturally. What people fail to realize is that you can be successful for a moment in time and then lose it.

"We were successful last year but nothing is guaranteed this year. We have to go out there and battle our butts off every single week and compete to the highest level that we're capable of.

"Hopefully by the end of the day we have gone 1-0 and we've been successful. Success is a moving target. That was something that resonated in my soul and will probably stick with me forever.''