Taking the Long Way Home

An injury gave Henry Caruso M.S. ’18 a second-chance at his final season of college basketball. He chose to do it at home.

Taking the Long Way Home
Photography by Don Jedlovec

Mamie Caruso ’19 usually keeps dinner pretty simple for her brother. Just pasta and salad. But the food hits the spot every time, Henry Caruso M.S. ’18 says. Getting a home-cooked meal in the middle of a 30-game season is tough to come by. After a game, it tastes even better.

“She brings a lot of her friends to the games,” Henry says of his younger sister. “It’s fun looking up and seeing her there and just having someone that I know, around.”

Henry Caruso ’18 and sister Mamie Caruso ’19 (left)

A year ago, Henry couldn’t have had a casual post-game meal at his sister’s apartment. Or have her at a game at all, for that matter. Last March, Henry was a senior on the Princeton basketball team but he wasn’t playing. After a first-team All-Ivy League season as a junior, Henry hurt his foot eight games into his senior year and was done for the season.

Typically, a player in this situation would redshirt and return the next season, but the Ivy League doesn’t allow graduate students to participate in sports. Henry had one more year of eligibility but nowhere to play.

Santa Clara has always had a special place in Henry’s heart. He grew up in Burlingame, California, and played at Junipero Serra High. Both his parents were Broncos-dad, Jake 89, MBA 92 and mom, Elena J.D. 92. His sister Mamie started at SCU in 2015. So when it became clear he’d have to transfer to finish his playing career, SCU emerged as an option. He hopped on the phone with coach Herb Sendek and felt he fit in.

“He told me his vision for the program,” Henry says. “The combination of coming back home, playing for a great coach, and being around a great program, and university that’s committed to their students and helping its students serve, really resonated with me.”

Henry has continued his success at SCU. The 6-foot-4 forward has started all 30 games this season and is the Broncos second leading scorer at 12.2 points per game and best rebounder with seven boards a contest. Even though he’s only played one year at SCU, he feels a part of the family. SCU included him in senior night festivities last week, celebrating with teammates Kai Healy ’18Jarvis Pugh ’18, and Emmanuel Ndumanya ’17 M.A. ’18.

“We’re a close group, real connected,” Henry says. “Playing and representing the school for Santa Clara has just been a tremendous opportunity.”

Returning home also opened up doors off the court. In addition to spending more time with family, he’s earning a master’s degree in finance and taking full advantage of living in the Bay.

“Being in the Silicon Valley right here, I’ve been interested in business and what ties that could bring,” Henry says. “So right now, I’m taking finance classes and business classes and being exposed to different networking opportunities and connections within the area.”

For a project in his business communications class, he was required to meet with people in the field to see what their day-to-day is like. Henry says opportunities like this are valuable. In basketball terms, if going to class every day is like doing drills in practice, internships and projects in the field are like playing in a game. It’s all about being ready, he says.

“Something that Coach Sendek always says is, ‘In tough situations we sink to our level of preparation,’” Caruso recalls. “So, your preparation is obviously key.”

This isn’t the only time Herb Sendek’s words have proved handy. Henry says his coach doesn’t take any short cuts and has taught him a lot this season.

“His attention to detail is impressive,” Henry says. “He’s so sharp and so dedicated to what he does. And not only does he have this wealth of knowledge, but he’s committed to getting things right.”

Henry looks forward to seeing what Sendek will accomplish once he graduates. He thinks SCU has the right man to build the program. In fact, the commitment to athletics at SCU as a whole makes him think big things are on the horizon.

“There are a lot of people that want Santa Clara to be back on top,” Henry says. “That dedication, whether it’s our strength coach, our basketball coaches, our trainers, people in the academic center, media services people, they really want Santa Clara to be back to its winning ways.”

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