The first time I ever saw Troy Hennum, he was following my buddy Phil around. Phil stood 6’7″, played for the University of Washington basketball team, and cast a long shadow over his much more diminutive tagalong. The alignment was symbolic — Phil silently and casually strolling into the IMA (UW’s student gym) with Troy damn near stalking the Husky athlete as he ran behind him, all while talking a million miles a minute. It was the personification of jersey-chasing, and it was awesome to behold.
They say that one of the best ways to find out about a man’s character is to play basketball with him. On that day, I played ball with Phil and Troy, Troy for the first time. Immediately, he bugged the shit out of me. This was a bro’s bro. A headband-wearing frat boy instigator, the ultimate in brodaciousness come to life.
On the court he not only rubbed both his teammates and his opponents the wrong way, he also seemed content to play the role of Kobe Bryant when given the opportunity, despite his unequivocal lack of talent. He was the kind of pickup basketball player that made you roll your eyes and hope to God that you’d never be stuck on his team again. I’m not saying I’m the ultimate teammate or anything — my penchant for taking ill-advised threes and believing I can make any attempt this side of halfcourt is probably my undoing — but I knew my role on the squad, which Troy did not. On top of that, I wasn’t walking around the gym practically begging everyone in shorts to fight me. So yeah, right away I knew this dude had some character issues.
A short time later, my intramural coed softball team, the Athletic Supporters, took on Troy’s team. We were the three-time defending coed champions at UW. We were damn good. But so were they. It was the league semifinals and things got a little heated. Throughout the game, Troy played the role of Earl Weaver, protesting calls, barking at whoever would listen, and just generally being a douchebag.
Tensions flared as the game stayed close all the way to its finish. In the end, Troy’s team beat us and went onto the coed championship. We were upset but weren’t distraught by any means. We’d won three titles in four years — it was a pretty good run. More than anything else, though, everyone was a little chapped over Troy’s behavior. Take away one dickhead and what you had was a well-played, hard-fought contest between two solid teams. Unfortunately, that had all been spoiled by a jerk. Such was Troy.
A few years passed and any memories of Troy Hennum expunged themselves from my brain. That is, until the day the Mariners traded Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak.
On that particular afternoon, I took to Facebook and rejoiced over acquiring a talent like Smoak (how quickly we forget that Smoak was once a talent). Back then, prior to getting Zuckerberged, I happened to be the proprietor of a Seattle Sportsnet Facebook account — later on, that account would be disabled by the Facebook team because Seattle Sportsnet, as it turned out, “wasn’t a real person.” Anyway, on that day my account still existed, and among my 4,000-some-odd friends was one Troy Hennum, who quickly proceeded to shit all over the Mariners’ trade on my Facebook wall.
Troy didn’t like Smoak, nor did he like any of the players acquired. Basically, he thought the trade was crap. His points were valid, but it was the way he issued his complaints that irked me. So to call his bluff, I offered him a bet. I insisted that within five years, Justin Smoak would be an All-Star; Troy obviously felt otherwise. The payoff was a steak dinner or something of the sort. At the time, I felt the bet was a sure thing (now I’m not as confident, but whatever…you can still do it Justin!). More than that, though, I wanted to take this bro’s money, and this was a way to do that. So the bet stood and still stands today, with three years remaining until one of us is forced to pay up. We’ll see how this plays out in time, I suppose.
A year or so later, upon forgetting all about Troy once again, I read a blurb in The Seattle Times that mentioned Troy Hennum as the head softball coach at Lake Washington High School. I could feel my eyebrows arch as I read the words on my computer screen. Troy? That Troy? A softball coach? Really? First of all, the extent of the guy’s softball experience was as an intramural coed player at the University of Washington, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to expertise in one’s field. Second, I had seen this guy and the way he interacted with people in college. Had he changed at all? Because if he hadn’t, there was no way anyone in their right mind would want him around their kids, let alone high school girls. It was intriguing, to say the least.
Time passed yet again. We made it all the way until today, March 8th, 2013, without the name Troy Hennum leasing any space in my consciousness. And then this story broke. Yep. Believe it or not, six days into his (new) coaching gig at Roosevelt High School, Troy had been placed on leave for using his softball players as matchmakers, asking them to find him “cute girls” he could mack on. As it turns out, asking high school girls to find you dates is frowned upon. Who knew?! And yet it took the actions of a bro’s bro to confirm what most of us probably could have guessed on our own.
To make matter worse, minutes after news on Troy’s actions broke locally, Deadspin got a hold of the story. Troy has now gone national. He is famous, although probably not in a way he ever hoped.
This is bad. It looks bad, at least. But if Troy doesn’t find a way out of this, I’ll be shocked. He seems to have that type of escapability about him. And within a few months, once all this blows over, I bet the guy ends up coaching again. These things happen all the time. And then we forget about them and move on.
Thing is, I don’t think Troy Hennum is as bad a dude as he seems to have become. I think he’s just immature, living in that ether between high school, college, and the real world, not quite committing to a path that would lend itself to staying out of trouble.
Despite his issues, I sincerely hope he turns things around. Because in a couple years, when Justin Smoak becomes an All-Star, I need that guy to have the money to pay for my steak dinner. So get your shit together, Troy. We’re going to El Gaucho, son. We’ll get a nice booth. It’ll be lovely.