Throw out the (old) record books

Kesean Henderson and her saxophone. Rhett Lewis | THE SIGNAL

Kesean Henderson, a senior thrower on the women’s track and field team, uses her strength to hurl weights through the air at a record pace while using her touch and feel to make sweet music off the track.

Henderson has been playing saxophone since the fifth grade (several years before she picked up her first track and field weight) and enjoys the relaxing effects of the instrument.

Kesean Henderson. Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics.

“I enjoy sports more than playing the saxophone,” Henderson said. “I play the sax when I need to relax.”

While Henderson has a predilection for playing sports over playing the saxophone, she still manages to make music apart of her sports life.

One might think jazz would be plentiful on Henderson’s pre-meet playlist, but that is not the case.

“I definitely love listening to jazz, but it’s a little too slow to listen to before track meets,” Henderson said. “I need to play stuff that will get me hyped and get me going- like  [rapper] 2 Chainz. The music makes no sense. The beats are so catchy, you have to start dancing to them.”

Even though athletics brought Henderson to Georgia State, her passion for music started long before she ever threw a weight.

She joined the band in fifth grade and eventually joined any group that would afford her the opportunity to hone saxophone craft; from jazz ensembles to symphonic and concerts bands.

As Henderson got older, her extracurricular activities expanded to the world of sports.

She joined the basketball team in middle school and later tried shot putting in high school, where she excelled mightily.

Henderson graduated from Decatur High School in 2009 and committed to Georgia State, despite having an offer from Andrew College to play basketball.

Women’s track head coach Chris England immediately took notice of Henderson’s commitment on the track and her preparation.

“Whether she’s at practice in pouring rain, the sun beating on her or in frigid temperatures, she’s always putting her best effort,” England said. “She’s always going the extra bit”.

England also acknowledged the importance of assistant coach Travis Coleman on Henderson’s development as a thrower, an impact not lost on Henderson as well.

“He just pushed me farther than my other coaches did and had me start thinking I could go to the Olympics,” Henderson said.

Henderson also credits her teammates for her strong performances.

The relaxed environment her teammates help create is key for Henderson’s preparation for throwing.

“If I’m just goofing off, relaxed, I’ll throw well,” Henderson said. “If I’m tense, thinking about it a lot, it’ll be a horrible day .”

When Henderson first broke the Georgia State school weight throw record during the UAB track meet earlier this season, she didn’t allow it to make her complacent while still competing.

“I actually thought I only threw it 14 meters, but it was 15.03 meters”, Henderson said. “I got excited but I couldn’t show it because I was still competing. I got excited with my teammates afterwards. On the inside I was pretty happy about it.”

While Henderson’s swan song at Georgia State is only months away, she still has several lengthy goals that she would like to accomplish.

“For the indoor conference I want to be in top five [weight] and for the outdoor I want to place top five for the hammer,” Henderson said. “I want to get 55 feet in the weight. I currently throw 49. It’s a heave, but I can get it.

*Interview was done on Jan. 29, 2013. On Feb. 9 , in Birmingham, Ala., Henderson broke her own school record in the weight throw with a toss of 15.56m (51’ 0.75”).

Kesean Henderson in action. Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics.
Kesean Henderson in action. Photo courtesy of Georgia State Athletics.


Here is a list of items that weight about 25 pounds, the size of the weight that Henderson throws during competition.  Imagine being able to throw each one of these items over feet, which is how far Henderson has thrown the weight in recent competitions.

• a two-year-old toddler

• a small dog

• 10 feet of metal chain

• a 19-inch flat screen television

• 3 one-gallon jugs of water

• about 4,500 U.S. pennies

• five MacBook computers


Favorites of Henderson

Artists: Drake, The Weekend and Taylor Swift

Genres of music: Rap, R & B and pop

Saxophonists: Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington

Song: “A Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

Celebrity she’d like to meet: Alicia Keys

Kesean Henderson poses with her saxophone and her track and field weight inside the GSU Sports Arena. Rhett Lewis | THE SIGNAL
Kesean Henderson poses with her saxophone and her track and field weight inside the GSU Sports Arena. Rhett Lewis | THE SIGNAL