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How manager Jesse Baldwin inspires West Henderson

 

Jesse Baldwin will do whatever it takes to help West Henderson win.

But he is usually overlooked on the field, on the court or during the diamond game. He will be on the sidelines cheering for his teammates.

During the basketball season, he yells “D Up” and claps his hands twice in an attempt to inspire the Falcons for another defensive stoppage.

Baldwin plays football for West Henderson and is the manager of the school’s basketball and baseball teams. He is one of the most important ingredients that will help the Falcons make a difference in football and basketball this season.

“He’s just a fun kid and the kids love him,” trainer Brandon Brooks said. “And he brings a lot of energy. And like I said, he makes our dressing room happy.”

Brooks faced Baldwin for the first time since the 2020–21 season, for the first time at West Henderson. He said that security guard Lucas Kachilo actually introduced him to Baldwin.

Baldwin asked him if he could become the team’s manager. Brooks immediately gave him a list of expectations and responsibilities that he had to perform on a daily basis.

He never complained and did it with a smile on his face.

“He’s proud of it,” Brooks said. “When we come to practice, the floor is swept. The watch is out and ready to go. We give him a practice plan. He’s all set when we change drills.”

Baldwin was also not afraid to exceed expectations.

“When we as humans have bad days, whether it’s me, the kids or assistant coaches, and you’re talking to Jesse (Baldwin), he just smiles at you,” Brooks said. he’s just such a kid.”

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Brooks said Baldwin acknowledged the team had poor practice in the 2021-2022 season. He remembers asking him for a basketball.

Baldwin went to the top of the arc and challenged Kachilo to a one-on-one game.

Kachilo smiled and agreed.

The rest of the team began cheering and watched in awe as Baldwin took on the team’s third top scorer.

“It got Lucas[Kachilo]excited,” Brooks said. “And I’ll tell you what: the practice has changed.”

Being a basketball and baseball team manager can be quite time consuming.

But Baldwin said it’s helpful because the team and coaches still treat him like he’s part of the team.

“I love them all to death,” Baldwin said. “They love me to death. They treat me like I’m one of them. I feel like I’m one of them.”

Brooks said he became manager because he loves West Henderson.

“He loves the players who have been trained at this school,” Brooks said. “Believe it or not, not just those he calls his friends. He loves every person in this school. He doesn’t have bad feelings for anyone.”

Basketball, football, and baseball players aren’t the only ones who gravitate toward Baldwin. Other students too. The student body named him this year’s homecoming king.

Baldwin said he did not expect to be hailed as homecoming king. He said he almost burst into tears when it was announced that he had won. The moment was special because his father was there to see it.

Brooks said everyone wants to see Baldwin succeed in everything he does.

One of Kachilo and Truitt Manuel’s favorite memories of Baldwin was on the football field.

His number was called in the closing moments of the Falcons’ victory over Owen this season.

He lined up as a defender. The ball was tackled and the War Horses offensive line failed to block it.

Baldwin chased the quarterback and knocked him to the ground for his first career sack.

He jumped up and celebrated as the West Henderson sideline went berserk. Fans of the Falcons and his teammates jumped up and down in support of Baldwin.

Manuel said he was so excited that he went offside in the next two plays.

Brooks said he would miss Baldwin very much when he continued his academic career at Western Carolina University.

“I’ll be honest,” Brooks said. “I cannot replace him. So I’ll have to find someone who can make up for the remaining slack.”

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