Hennessey at home with Wildcats

Reilly+Hennessey+considers+his+next+move+during+the+Sept.+30+game+against+Simon+Fraser.+CWU+won+the+game+62-0.
Reilly Hennessey considers his next move during the Sept. 30 game against Simon Fraser. CWU won the game 62-0.

Reilly Hennessey considers his next move during the Sept. 30 game against Simon Fraser. CWU won the game 62-0.

Photo by Xander Fu

Photo by Xander Fu

Reilly Hennessey considers his next move during the Sept. 30 game against Simon Fraser. CWU won the game 62-0.

Anna Eyears, Staff Reporter

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Photo by Xander Fu
Reilly Hennessey considers his next move during the Sept. 30 game against Simon Fraser. CWU won the game 62-0.

In Reilly Hennessey’s home in Camas, Washington, hangs a poster bearing the words “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Inscribed on the poster is, “I want to be a football player.”

Now 21 years old, as quarterback and captain of CWU’s football team, Hennessey has made his dream a reality.

“It’s funny because I never thought I would actually be doing it, and yet here I am,” Hennessey said. “Growing up, I remember my dad and I would play football in the family room. He would be on his knees and he would try to tackle me. I would have to touch the fireplace to score a touchdown.”

Hennessey transferred from Eastern Washington University this year after an opportunity arose to take on a greater role as the quarterback of CWU’s football team.

“The position I play is a lot more than just the physicality like it is for some other people. There are a lot more cerebral parts of the game that I’m always thinking about, which I enjoy.”

Coming off the back of a two-hour training session, Hennessey’s passion for football remains unwavering.

“I love the team aspect of it,” Hennessey said. “I love being out there with 11 guys and basically fighting over pieces of grass. It takes 11 guys doing the right thing every single time to have a successful play. I think that’s pretty special.”

Head coach Ian Shoemaker, said the recruiting process was competitive, with five guys all vying for the same role.

“We were in a situation where we were looking for more depth following our graduating seniors last year,” Shoemaker said. “A coach from Eastern Washington University, who had formerly coached at Central, called us when Reilly was starting to think about transferring. He said ‘Hey, this is a kid that we think is really good and we’d like to keep him, but he wants to leave.’”

Hennessey ended up winning the job.

“The guys have responded to him well,” Shoemaker said. “They’ve voted him captain. I think he’s really ingrained himself quickly.”

Shoemaker said Hennessey had been a huge contributor to the 5-0 start to the season.

“We’ve walked up the rankings of this season,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think he’s scratched the surface of what he can do. I think that he’s growing and improving, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near his maximum capabilities. We’re looking forward to seeing what that looks like.”

For one individual each time out on the field is brought with mixed feelings.

Connie Hennessey, Hennessey’s mother, spoke with admiration of her son and of his passion for football.

“I’m very proud of him but, as a mom of course my heart is always in my mouth,” Connie Hennessey said. “When he was in third grade I asked his pediatrician ‘What do you think of kids playing football?’ and he said ‘I see more kids with soccer injuries than football injuries. That made me feel better as a mom. He also loves it and so I’m behind him 100 percent.”

Connie Hennessey said she was proud of not only his football performance, but of his sportsmanship and leadership.

“How he cares for his teammates, that makes me really proud,” Connie Hennessey said. “It’s always more fun when you’re winning and you’re a part of that, but I think the most important thing is how he conducts himself on and off the field.”

Fellow teammate, roommate and friend, Andrew Graham, said he had seen a change in the football program since Hennessey’s arrival.

“This program is definitely elevated, especially the offensive side, and I think that’s a big credit to him,” Graham said. “He’s just got a natural leadership to him. When people talk about him, it’s usually good things.”

Off the field, Hennessey is either balancing his demanding football schedule with earning his degree in mathematical studies or discussing more football.

“We’re talking about football a lot,” Graham said. “I’m always picking his mind about things. We get along with each other really well.”

Graham said being on the team together had strengthened their friendship.

“We’re always messing with each other in a funny way,” Graham said. “He’s a great guy. A lot of football players can come off as jerks, and he could definitely do that, being the starting quarterback and me not being as high, but that’s not the case at all. He treats me the same as anybody else. We have a good friendship. It’s a brotherly type thing.”

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Hennessey at home with Wildcats