Vail Daily column: Youth leader’s commitment inspires the community |

Vail Daily column: Youth leader’s commitment inspires the community

Navigating through life’s inherent obstacles can be a challenge, especially as a teenager. It’s rare to find an adolescent who is a natural leader, who is not only confident within himself, but also serves as a mentor who takes careful consideration of how others should be treated. The Vail Valley is fortunate to have such an inspiring youth leader in Hunter Henderson.

Henderson believes that it is vital to live a life that respects his peers, reveres his family, upholds his commitments and embodies the value of what it is to be a friend, a teammate and a community member. Impressive values for a junior in high school. Not only has Henderson’s close friends and family benefited from these beliefs; but his commitments have impacted the community at large.

Henderson is a National Honors Society member at Battle Mountain High School and has spent his most recent summer months working on this beautiful land we call the Vail Valley. In the wee hours of the morning while most students on summer break were sleeping, Henderson was working hard to maintain ditches in order to preserve water flow to livestock and hay fields. When the sun came up, one could be assured that Henderson was already halfway through his maintenance duties for the day. Being efficient and dedicated with his time is not foreign to Henderson. His Eagle Hockey Association hockey coach growing up, Brian Houlihan, recalls Henderson’s commitment and passion for hockey, recalling that he “commuted to Vail for four years to play hockey.” Not only did Henderson make the two-hour drive to practice, but he commuted all over the state for games, and notably missed only two practices in those four years. Houlihan revealed that there is “not another hockey player whose passion surpasses Hunters.” Henderson’s freshman year of high school involved a self-led project of collecting used sports equipment and providing the equipment to the Grand Junction youth to have access to sporting equipment. Again, this young leader’s giving nature illuminated as he saw the benefits of being charitable as not all youth are blessed with the ability to pay for such equipment.

In 2012, Henderson continued his leadership role while playing against youth Chinese hockey players with Vail International Hockey. Houlihan recounted this recent overseas trip and the mentorship he continues to witness with Henderson, “He’s a giver, a natural mentor and leader. … He’s always there for the younger players.” And through this dedication and passion for hockey, Henderson has been known for being a hard worker and understanding the benefits of hard work. “Henderson instilled a love for hockey with the younger players.” Houlihan said. “Over the years of coaching him, I’ve witnessed him show up to the younger teams practices and games just to support the players.”

And if you don’t find Henderson’s popularity, charismatic charm, cowboy boots, hardworking determination and proper etiquette delightful, then he’s sure to win you over with his core value of serving others, as he believes this is the best way to build character in a person.

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“He leads by example and shows his peers that hard work wins all at the end of the day,” Houlihan said. “What a great example to all of us who live, work and play here in this beautiful valley to always remember to be charitable to our community.

Candace Eves is the resource development coordinator at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

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