May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

‘Life is good,’ says former Irvine football coaching legend Terry Henigan

Former Irvine High football coach Terry Henigan returned to OC recently.

Former Irvine High football coach Terry Henigan says life is good, which is the saying he has on his tattoo.

“I have stickers on everything and all my hats say, ‘life is good,'” said Henigan before a retirement ceremony for former University football coach Mark Cunningham. “I’m a happy dude.”

Henigan is now retired and living in Palm Desert. Henigan, who retired after the 2009 season, is fondly remembered for creating the Irvine football family during his 29-year run at the school. He left with a 192-126-6 record at Irvine and led the Vaqueros to CIF titles in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 2000. The Vaqueros also had six league titles in that span and went to the CIF finals five times.

The first year after he retired, Henigan and his wife Francine took a long vacation right before the first week of the high school football season.

“We took a cross the country caravan and went for six weeks and went for 8,000 miles because I knew I would go nuts if I was around here during football that first year,” he said.

“I wish I could keep coaching, and it’s not because of my wife. I’m just too old. I know I’m too old.”

After retiring, Henigan tried his hand with assistant coaching jobs at Shadow Hills in Indio and then Xavier Prep in Palm Desert.

“I really enjoyed it and the guy at Xavier Prep appreciated what I did and he’s a good coach but yet he would let me handle special teams; he just gave it to me,” Henigan said.

“But it’s different out there. They don’t have the programs you see in Orange County, that’s for sure. But kids are kids. And there are a lot of schools  in Indio that really need some coaches.”

Players and opposing coaches always respected Henigan.

His successor, current Irvine Coach Erik Terry, said he admires the job Henigan did.

“Terry Henigan built Irvine football into one of the most respected programs in the area,” Terry said. “His attention to detail and emphasis on brotherhood developed the program’s identity of disciplined play and relentless effort.  

“Coach Henigan also lived out the program’s motto “Teammates For Life,” with his selfless devotion to his players and coaches. Coach Henigan was truly in this profession to help young boys grow into respectful, honorable, reliable, committed and selfless young men.”

“For me personally he taught me how to do things the right way, how to treat players fairly but not always equally, How to respect every opponent by thoroughly preparing for each one and leaving no stone un-turned.  But most importantly how to be your true self as a coach and build trusting relationships with both the staff and players.

“I will forever be indebted to Coach Henigan for his influence on me and I hope to pay it forward one day.”

Henigan, who said he works out and plays lots of golf and pickleball these days, said he still follows the Irvine football program.

“We (he and Terry) stay in touch all the time,” Henigan said. “I was coming in for quite a few games. But for us (he and his wife Francine) to drive in, watch the game and then drive home it’s too hard on us. I could stay at Mark’s (his son) house, but I got a tee-time on Saturday morning, so I got to get back. I got to drive back that night.”