By Jerry Reid
Moving towards a date with destiny known as graduation, versatile Warriors football and baseball player Henry Kreienbaum has much to be thankful for and to remember.
Seared on his memory is the last football game of his career—the epic Staunton River playoff frenzy that ended with the Warriors on the short end of an 85-79 score that represented the most points scored in a single game in Virginia since 1925. His four years saw him as part of a tight group that posted three Jefferson District titles, a Regional title and 41 wins.
James Madison University will be his next stop. JMU will also be a place where he will challenge the odds, scratching his baseball itch with a walk-on attempt. Knowing full well that only a few in any college sport will see paydays as a pro, playing baseball at the college level qualifies as an attainable dream for him.
During his last hurrah, Kreienbaum, who was an all-in type of player, scored six times on rushes, threw two TD passes and chalked up another two scores on pass receptions. His memories of that last game, though, remained strong well after the last whistle blew.
“It was definitely going out with a bang; great game all-around. We battled through a lot of adversity. The first play of the game Matthew Mullin (a key inside linebacker) went down with an injury. He was a huge part of our defensive team,” he recalled. Mullin, though, would fight back on that last shot under the Friday Night Lights and help his team on the offensive end. “Crazy, crazy way to go out,” he said. “You expect nothing less with all of the fun, all of the excitement we had the past four years. I’ll never put on the pads again, but going out like that, I guess I can’t complain.”
Injuries played a part in Kreienbaum’s last year, stopping him short of duplicating or bettering his previous year’s efforts. “The third game of the year [Spotswood], I landed funny on my shoulder and sprained my AC joint, which kind of set me back. I rolled my ankle in the Charlottesville game. That hurt pretty bad. In the Albemarle game I was running a route and Sam (Hearn) scrambled out of the pocket and I tried to block a kid so he could get around the corner and get a TD. He scored, but I tweaked my back a bit,” he recalled. He allowed that “he was bigger than I sized him up to be,” and recollections from others on the sideline heard the hit all the way across the field; it was a big-league play against a much bigger opponent. He shrugged off the pain, saying “all my injuries were fairly minor, didn’t set me back very much.”
Aside from the educational efforts, though, baseball will be on his mind as he begins his stay at JMU. It has been his lifetime love as a sport. Kreienbaum played it 12 months a year for some time as a youngster, and then backed off from the diamond for a while. He will attempt to take an outfield slot. Meanwhile, he has yet another season full of opportunities to learn and improve as a Warrior, roaming the pastures.
There must be something in the water in Crozet that makes these athletes and students love WAHS. The feeling breaks through from these boys and girls that the worst day at this school is better than the best day anywhere else. Kreienbaum is no different, and his sincere assessment of what has been, and what he might become, is still refreshing no matter how many times it’s said.
“It’s been unbelievable; it’s been a great time these four years. It’s sad to say that I’ll be moving out of this place. The academics have been good for me. I like to think I’m a good student. I’ve got a lot of good teachers, taking a lot of good classes that have sparked my interest in a lot of different subjects,” he said wistfully.
And just like his willingness in academics, he added that he came to football with Coach Redmond with an open mind, ready to learn. “I came in my freshman year, not knowing what to expect, just planned to have fun. I mean my love for the sport has just grown. I mean, all he [Redmond] has done, working together, building the chemistry between all of us, taking us under his wing . . . being a mentor for all of us . . . I would definitely ask Coach Redmond for advice before any other adult in school.” Good men build good men.
The college years now beckon and he will pursue a business major, and maybe double-major in something to do with sports and recreational management. And maybe sometime down the road he will skip out of the dugout, run across the baseline and take his rightfully earned place in the outfield of the JMU baseball team. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll play and win on the field of business.