It's been quite an odyssey for Aaron Henry over the past two years as he's had his share of adversity to deal with.
But Henry is healthy again and the 2004 Carson High graduate will give the Western Nevada Community College baseball team some much needed experience as the outfielder has signed to play for the school, which begins its inaugural season in 2006.
"It's great news," said WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore, who was able to offer Henry a full-ride scholarship that covers the cost of tuition and books. "First and foremost we get a sophomore with college baseball experience and best of all we get a Carson City native."
Whittemore was able to offer Henry a scholarship after a left-handed outfielder from Oregon, who had comitted to WNCC, signed with Oregon State.
"In no way is he a second choice," said Whittemore about the right-handed Henry. "Our first choice was to get both of them."
Henry's odyssey began in Septemeber, 2003 at the beginning of his senior year when he battled meningitis. After coming back from that, he was having an outstanding 2004 senior season with CHS, hitting .424 with 33 runs, two home runs and 21 stolen bases when he broke his ankle, ending his season.
After graduation, he gave a non-binding verbal commitment to the University of Nevada, but decided to attend Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. He led Lassen in hitting during its fall season with a .480 average, but came down with mononucleosis during the regular season this past spring.
During this summer, Henry was being recruited by WNCC and Nevada. But the Wolf Pack couldn't offer Henry a scholarship and asked him to use his Millennium scholarship.
Henry said he was leaning toward Nevada before Whittemore made the scholarship offer.
"That's what I planned on," said Henry about going to Nevada. "But then WNCC offered the scholarship, so you can't pass that up. D.J. seems like a great guy. It seems like he'll be a great coach to play for."
At a recent scouting combine, Henry was timed in the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds, so his speed is another obvious reason why Whittemore likes him.
"He's probably the fastest ball player that I've ever seen," said Whittemore, talking about the college level. "I couldn't be happier. He comes from a nice family."
Henry said he's glad just to be healthy again. "I just had a rough year," Henry said in an understatement. It's pretty cool to end up playing back at home after everything that's happened. Hopefully I'll be able to turn things around now that I'm healthy."
Whittemore now has 33 players in his program, but on the junior college level, it's hard to say how many of those players will show up when practice and tryouts begin on Aug. 10. Whittemore has lost two pitchers to Tommy John surgery - 2004 Reno High graduate Chris Rickey and 2005 CHS graduate Wes Osmer. Whittemore said the earliest that Osmer should be able to pitch is next summer.
The WNCC coach is planning to carry 34-36 players. Among the locals are Douglas High's Chad Walling, an infielder. Another player who figures to have an excellent shot at making the team is Walling's Douglas teammate, Jimmy Pierce, another infielder, who had an outstanding summer with the Sierra Sun Devils. "Jimmy Pierce has got a real good chance to make the team," Whittemore said.
Recruiting for 2007 has also already begun and Whittemore is looking at several Carson players. Among them is infielder Logan Parsley, who Whittemore said is one of the five best position players in high school in Northern Nevada heading into next season.