CPC Featured Player: Courtney Hendrickson
Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Courtney Hendrickson (Corn Dog/Corny) Hometown: Escondido, CA Position(s) played: Center, wing, fullback All Blues since: 2016 Studied: Wildlife Biology and Geography
The Courtney Hendrickson. Photo credit: Vic Abrenica
Although a relative newcomer to rugby, Courtney is not a stranger to high-level competition. She played field hockey for Cal, where she was named NorPac West Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, registering 136 saves with a .791 save percentage that year. During her last semester at Cal, she decided to join the women’s rugby team (and “not a second too late”). Asked how she first started playing rugby, Courtney answers that she figured that she “[liked] contact…and running with a purpose. It just made sense.” She learned about the All Blues through the many members of the team who visited Cal as “celebrity coaches”, listing Katie Chou, Irene Gardener, Katy Augustyn, and Lisa Dombroski as some of those who came “and imparted their knowledge on us young plebs.”
Last winter, Courtney was invited to participate at the National All-Star Competition (NASC) in Tigertown, FL. The NASC is one of the pathways that the USA women’s national team has to identify players that may be a good fit for its international 7s and 15s program. The competition was eye-opening for Courtney. She found that “people [were] REALLY good at rugby” and that she “[needed] to consume more protein and lift more.” On the first day, unsure about what position she should play, she got put in to train with the wings. Later, however, her coach decided to put her in as a center, which became the position she played throughout her time at the camp.
While at NASC, she was roommates with Kelly Griffin, who is on the women’s national team and is also an All Blues alum. Courtney relays her “super awkward” first encounter with Griff a couple weeks prior, at a Santa Barbara camp. Courtney had just found out that she was paired to be roommates with Griff at NASC, when suddenly Griff walks into the room. Courtney happened to be sitting almost right in front of the doorway. Completely star-struck, she hurriedly got up, repeatedly trying to shove the chair away so that Griff could get by. All the while she stumbled on her words. Griff, confused, just asked her, “What are you doing? Just give me a hug,” to which Courtney acquiesces “ooooooookaaay.” She ended up asking Griff for a lot of advice. Courtney thought it was “so freakin’ cool” that the veteran player never ran out of patience with her questions.
As an All Blue, Courtney’s favorite memory thus far this D2 season was “watching our rookie, Masha Kourjanskaia score her first try.” She says that what she likes most about being on the All Blues is “being surrounded by people who genuinely want you to be your best…and who are okay with how weird I am.” And as much as the team supports her in rugby endeavors and in being her weird self, so does Courtney return the favor. Evan Hoese, current All Blues backs coach for the D2 season, says that over the past year Courtney has been “constantly seeking new opportunities to improve, and always building up the people around her. Courtney's speed, strength and vision always make her a threat on offense and defense. However, her true strength comes from her indefatigable spirit. She always puts the team first.”
When Courtney is not playing rugby, her favorite pastime is annoying Oya. She also likes to raise fish and house them in fancy space-themed aquariums.