A parent of a girl that faces Minneota in basketball, volleyball and softball each year jokingly said he was going to crash Abby Hennen's graduation party, "just to make sure she really is graduating."
The parent, while acknowledging that Hennen is the best female athlete he has ever seen, admitted he was pleased to see her move on.
"It's going to be nice next year knowing she won't be competing against us," the parent said. "But I have to admit that I will miss watching her play, too."
So will the fans of Minneota.
Hennen, the daughter of Steve and Melissa Hennen, has dominated the court and playing fields for several years as a varsity standout for the Vikings, collecting an amazing 16 letters along the way.
"Abby is one of those athletes that will be talked about for many years to come," said Minneota volleyball coach Hayley Fruin. "It’s impressive how athletic and good she was at all three sports she participated in."
Hennen has four state titles under her belt, two each in basketball and volleyball. A likely third state crown was denied in basketball because the state tournament was halted prior to the favored Vikings' semifinal game last year. And a possible sixth state title was also denied when the state volleyball tournament was also cancelled last year in which Minneota was clearly the top dog in that fight, too.
"I think the thing I admire the most is the fact that she is a three-sport athlete," said girls basketball coach Chad Johnston. "We have some kids who have been really good at three different sports, but most gave up on their spring sport to focus on volleyball. Abby has been impressive in all three sports she has participated in."
As the sun slowly starts to set on this remarkable career, Hennen has had a chance to reflect on all the good times wearing the blue and gold.
"It will definitely be something I will miss, and I am thankful to be an athlete at Minneota," she said. will always remember the community support and the success we had."
Hennen's recipe for success is easy to follow: "I think it's just a lot of work in the off-season, having teammates who push me, and having the confidence that my coaches trust me," she said.
But her recipe also includes talent, intelligence, and a desire to work hard.
In basketball, the deft guard scored 2,201 career points and was All-State and a Minnesota Miss Basketball finalist this winter. In her career, she was all-conference four times, including twice the conference MVP.
"She has been very impressive over the years," Johnston said. "She had meant a lot to our program. She has been a great leader for our team and her competitiveness brings out the best in the people around her."
Johnston said having a short memory has also been a valuable attribute for Hennen.
"I would say she was an ultra-competitive person who had an unbelievable drive," he said. "I would also say that her ability to have a five-second memory has helped her tremendously. She is not one to dwell on the mistakes that she makes. She moves on quickly and doesn’t get down on herself. She's very confident in her abilities."
In volleyball, Hennen unleashed 608 career kills which is remarkable since she spent her freshman and sophomore years as a libero, the team did not get a full 2020 season, and she was often relegated to the bench when the team had convincing leads. She also was a defensive stalwart as evidenced by the 1,506 digs in her career.
Hennen was also named All-State twice in volleyball as the Vikings won state crowns in 2018 and 2019.
"When talking with other coaches from other teams, they’ll ask about (Abby) a lot of times," Fruin noted. "They see from the outside looking in how good she is, but a lot of times when you have a very natural, gifted athlete, they maybe don’t work as hard in practice. In Abby’s case, this is far from true. Abby is one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever coached. She thrives in a competitive environment. She doesn’t care about stats, she just wants to win."
Because sports were meshed more closely together than usual this year due to scheduling around the state guidelines and restrictions with the virus outbreak, three-sport athletes like Hennen got little time off in between sports. But once the basketball season was in the books, she donned her catching gear and started hitting like she had been through a month of spring training.
As of Monday, she is hitting a robust .565 (36-for-62) with 23 of her hits going for extra bases. She has six doubles, nine triples and eight home runs, while driving in 42 runs for the Minneota/Canby softball team in only 19 games.
She was all-conference in softball as a freshman and sophomore and will likely be the conference MVP this spring (there were no spring sports last season due to the pandemic).
"Best all-around athlete that I have ever seen come through Minneota," said softball coach Heidi Boerboom. "Hands down, the best catcher/player for the softball program. She could had been the best at any position, though. I was just thankful and fortunate to have her behind the plate. She has made some pretty remarkable defensive plays."
Boerboom noted that Hennen is the type of athlete that you just need to get out of her way and let her play.
"She understands the game because she is so smart," said Boerboom. "She has the skills and drive to just dominate. I have been so thankful that she chose to play softball.”
"So many of our talented athletes only dedicate themselves to JO volleyball in the spring. Abby has always put softball first in the spring. She knows they are all just sports and we should keep it all in perspective and have fun. Abby is the most competitive player that I have ever encountered, but she also has fun doing it."
Hennen is no slouch in the classroom either as she recently graduated with Distinctive Honors (3.67-4.0 GPA).
Hennen was fortunate to have played with coaches who have established winning programs.
"I am very fortunate to have the coaching that I have had," she said. "I love how all of them are dedicated and care as much as the team does. They are a huge part of our success and I am grateful for them."
Now the book is closed on a spellbinding chapter in Minneota sports. The legacy she has left will be used as a motivational tool for those younger athletes who were fortunate to have played beside her or had the opportunity to watch her perform.
"Abby has left quite the footprint for all three sports she participated in," Fruin concluded.
Until she leaves for the University of Minnesota, Mankato next fall to major in Exercise Science. Sadly, she has decided not to play any sports in college. First, though, she will spend a busy summer coaching little kids softball, working at Countryside Golf Club, working at the Minneota Manor, playing slow-pitch softball, and spending time at the lake with family and friends.