- Pitcher/First Base
- American Studies
Jolene is an American Studies major at Cal, and received a Pac-12 All-Academic Team Honorable Mention honor in 2012. She has several aspirations, including playing at the professional level, becoming a coach and starting her own business. Jolene’s ideal job would be a situation where she could help young people build confidence through sports, because she believes her athletic career has given her a better stage to help people.
Cal’s coaches often call Jolene “exactly what you would want in a softball player.” She is extremely self-motivated and driven, passionate and caring about her teammates, as well as charismatic and giving. As a young sophomore, she was quick to step into the circle in 2011 after Cal’s starting pitcher Valerie Arioto broke her ankle before the season (detailed in the competition section). Despite her many accolades, she is not arrogant and is very much about the team. This 2013 season is the first time in Cal’s history that the softball team has team captains, and Jolene is one of them.
Jolene was very close with her great-aunt, who lived with the Hendersons until she passed away in December. Her great aunt had some mental disabilities, and Jolene was one of the primary caregivers to her and was heartbroken when she passed. Because of her great-aunt, Jolene has always had a great affinity for the elderly. One great example of this is that after a softball game, Coach Tammy Lohmann’s elderly relative was visiting. Jolene secretly encouraged some of the children who attended the game to go to Lohmann’s relative and ask for an autograph from her, which, according to Coach Tammy, made her relative feel
so unbelievably special” and made her day.
Henderson has also been a member of the Bear Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which meets once every two weeks to provide a voice for student-athletes in athletic administration.
Jolene is especially passionate about working with children and the elderly, and has been involved with numerous community service activities since she was in high school, when she hosted a free pitching clinic for young girls. One community service project Jolene is extremely passionate about is the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which aims to “improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families by pairing them with college and high school athletic teams.” The Golden Bears adopted Bebe Wiggs, a local child with pediatric cancer, in 2010, and since then the team has hosted numerous pediatric cancer awareness activities for Bebe. The team even attended Bebe’s birthday party and held a Christmas party for her. Bebe is especially close with Jolene, who was the first person outside of Bebe’s immediate family who was allowed to take her anywhere on their own. Jolene took Bebe to the movies and continues to spend time with her outside of team activities with her. Even during the offseason, she calls and visits the Wiggs to check in on Bebe’s progress.
Jolene is a major reason Cal is being heralded so highly in this 2013 preseason. She has already found herself on the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List, and was named to ESPN’s Preseason All-American Softball team. In the Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll, Cal was voted the favorite to win the conference, in large part due to Jolene’s success as Cal’s pitcher for the past two seasons.Jolene started turning heads as a sophomore in 2011 after Cal’s starting pitcher Valerie Arioto broke her ankle on the first day of practice. She had a standout season, including pitching 18 shutouts, two no-hitters and a perfect game while striking out 333 batters and limiting them to a .189 batting average. She became Cal’s all-time single-season wins leader with 40 wins in 2011. She was named an Easton First-Team All-American and the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year. She had an equally, if not more successful junior season, finishing with numerous accolades, including: NFCA First Team All-American, NFCA All-Pacific Region First Team, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, All-Pac-12 First Team, and Pitcher of the week 5 times throughout the 2012 season. She also earned Chevron Spring Fling Most Valuable Pitcher, and was a USA Softball Player of the Year Top-11 Finalist.