June 19, 2020
By: Joe Henderson
PLANT CITY Fla.- After seven years at Strawberry Crest HS, where he coached cross country and track, Ben Henderson is moving to the Raiders, where he succeeds Caleb Roberts.
Those are big shoes to fill. Roberts was the 2018 Florida Dairy Farmers’ boys soccer coach of the year after leading the Raiders to their first state championship in the sport. That season, the Raiders finished as the 10th ranked team in the country by Max Preps.
“I wasn’t actively trying to leave the Crest,” Henderson said. “I had been there nine of the 11 years it had been open, so choosing to change schools was tough. But the teaching position at Plant City fell more in line with my professional goals and I felt I had to take it.
“The chance to take over Plant City’s soccer team is exciting because it will take me back to my roots with soccer. But it also comes with a risk because I haven’t coached soccer at this level.”
Henderson ran cross country and track for four years at Brandon High School, twice participating on teams that qualified for the state meet. He also participated in those sports at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. before taking the cross country position at Strawberry Crest when the school opened in 2009.
After two seasons, he accepted a position as a volunteer coach for Florida State’s nationally prominent cross country and track programs. He later served two seasons in the same role at the University of South Florida before returning to Strawberry Crest.
He also spent 10 years as a referee in high school soccer and coached and played at Brandon Area Youth Soccer League.
“Being a ref for more than 10 years, you learn to see the game in its totality,” he said. “Successful officiating requires more than just blowing the whistle for fouls and out of bounds. If you can’t read the game, you’re going to be limited with how high up the ladder you can go as a ref.
“My plan is for us to be defensively sound and build lots of possession from the back. I believe a lot of teams resort to long balls when they feel they don’t have the skill. From what I’ve seen on tape, though, there are enough skill players at Plant City that if we are patient, good things will come.”