Coleton Henning hoped to hear his name called Thursday during the MLS SuperDraft.
Henning, a Shawnee native and 2008 St. Thomas Aquinas graduate, participated in last week’s MLS combine after wrapping up his career at Furman University, but he wasn’t among the 38 players chosen during the two-round draft.
“I was very disappointed, and I was a little surprised after talking to my agent and the people who came and talked to me during the season,” Henning said. “I didn’t think it was a sure thing, but I thought I was going to go in the second round at least.”
That made for a long weekend as Henning awaits today’s MLS Supplemental Draft — and another chance, he hopes, to begin his professional soccer career.
“It’s always been a goal,” Henning said. “Whether or I not I thought I would achieve it and really thought I’d be here at the combine and things like that, I don’t know. It definitely was a goal of mine since I reached high school.”
It’s a dream he’s chased through three knee reconstructions.
Henning tore the ACL in his left knee as a freshman in high school and tore the same ligament in his right knee a year later.
Between his sophomore and junior seasons at Furman, Henning tore his left ACL again and missed the 2010 season.
But Henning bounced back from the third surgery to be chosen as the Southern Conference player of the year in 2011, when he scored seven goals with four assists in leading the Paladins to the NCAA Tournament.
“We all were disappointed he didn’t get drafted in the first two rounds,” Coleton’s father, Todd Henning, said. “The agent was saying there was a strong possibility, but the word got out on his surgeries and I think he got tagged as injury-prone. That’s something we had worried about.”
Teams might be more willing to take a chance on Henning, who finished with 24 goals and 12 assists in his college career, during the supplemental rounds.
Assuming he does get drafted today, Henning will be the second player from his family drafted in the last seven months.
Henning’s younger brother, Clayton, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 11th round of baseball’s amateur draft last June — a month after he graduated from Aquinas.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Todd Henning said. “I can’t say I really expected it, but they’ve put in a lot of time to get there and it was definitely a goal for both of them.”
For his part, Coleton was fine with the fact his little brother got drafted before him.
“Growing up, he was four years younger than me, so from school to school he was always in my footsteps,” Coleton said. “People would always know he’s Coleton’s little brother. It was really good for him that he could create his own image as Clayton Henning and not Coleton’s little brother. I was happy for him.”
Perhaps today, Clayton will get to the return the favor and feel the same sense of pride in his older brother.