American Dream, a legendary father…he is Hilir Henno, admired by Bernardinho

The eldest son of former international free agent Hubert Henno (254 Blues selections), Hillier (18) leaves California, USA, to perfect his volleyball training, where he is cautiously considering the Los Angeles Olympics . A new adventure for the talented receiver, followed by France coach Bernardinho.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are just around the corner. In two years, it is likely that some of the French team’s players will be crowned in Tokyo – Irving Ngapez, Benjamin Toniti… to name a few – taking the decision a bit back and even passing the torch to the next generation, with an eye toward Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. France’s current coach, Bernardinho, has this deadline in mind, as he explained to RMC Sport on January 12.

In his first roster as the new Blues boss last summer, the Brazilian mechanic expanded his squad to young talents from the Ligue 1 champions (Pace, Lavagni, Rebelol, etc.) A hotbed for the Blues’ selection. A few years later, in preparation for the Olympics in Los Angeles. One of them rightly chose to go into exile in California, America, in the shadow of the Old World. If he stays in Europe, the demands he will face are far from that. He may be a young player whose profile has drawn the greed of many foreign club agents and sporting directors as he develops.

Discovered by… Juventus and Torino

In his memory, Hilir Henno (18), the eldest son of a former French, TVB freeman (Hilir has a younger brother, Matisse, who is also a volleyball player), has been holding with a ball. “Ah, genes, we can’t remove them”, to RMC Sport Hubert Henno. Indeed, when one grows up in the cultural soup that is characteristic of the family environment produced by such high-level sports, it is difficult to escape the fate of the father. From summer’s must-have beach parties to the volleyball hall, Hilir uttered his first word: “topi” in Albanian, the former international language of his mother Alketa. A word that means ball.

Hilir Henno could have had a basketball or a soccer ball, since he started playing both sports at a very young age in Italy. For the little thing, when his father played for Cuneo (at the foot of the Alps-sur-Mer), two flagship clubs in the Piedmont region, Juve and Turin, even took notice of Hillier. The family was contacted by an intermediary at The Old Lady (Juventus’ nickname). “He offered to bring Hilir into their training center early on,” recalls Hubert Henno.

According to the father of the family, after the tribe moved to Macerata (in the Marche region in central Italy), volleyball was a natural choice over football. Hilir, who has a more accurate memory of the moment the transformation occurred. While he’s still looking for a lot of himself – “I want to do anything” – which seems normal at that age (Hillier was under 10 at the time), it was his little brother who was going to finish him off . persuade.

“My mom was going to play volleyball with my brother. We were in 2011 or 2012. I followed them and then I saw Mattis playing volleyball. My mom. I was hooked right away. I had a great time, Fantastic”, savoring Hillier over the phone as if he were tasting Proust’s Madeleine for the first time.

Promoted by Kevin Tillie

Back in France, in Tours, under the pressure of this unbearable name, without feeling the weight of the responsibility that rests on you, can be exercised, the opposite will happen. And he’s so sure, innately calm, that he bequeathed his surname to him by his father when he was training at TVB when he was younger. He will be sacked there for six years, joining in turn the Poles in Bordeaux, then the National Volleyball Centre (CNVB), whose staff forms the backbone of the French cadet team, and Hillier, who will be European champions in 2019, was selected as the The best receiver of the game. At CNVB, the second year will be the recognition of outstanding talent.

A third or fourth in the receiver and attacker rotation, Hillier took advantage of the poor performance of players who were ahead of him in the hierarchy to sign an extraordinary ticket against Nancy in Ligue 1 B. He won’t leave the team until the end of the season. But for their coming-of-age son, Hubert and Arcata Henno have another plan, and that is to send him to the United States to study. A carefully considered project during his school days in France. Kevin Tillie — who won two NCAA championships at UC Irvine — played the role of intermediary to help him get into Irvine, Calif. You still have to find the right people and meet very difficult admissions criteria. The administrative process can be tedious.

“At the time, he had a lot of opportunities to go to different colleges,” said David Kniffin, his coach at UC Irvine. Young Hillier was spoiled, but he would choose Owen. And the “head coach” will do everything possible to facilitate the integration of the player into his new work environment away from European conventions. “America’s greatest strength is that they combine sports and schools in an incredible way, and we don’t know how to do it, and it’s really great. It’s a dream,” revealed Hubert Henno.

“I have a feeling that I’m living in a movie every day,” smiling at his older son, fascinated by the new life he’s had, and grateful for an approach designed to be constructive in his development as a player, No stress weekend results. On the other hand, the workload is enormous. In addition to studying, there are four to five hours a day for volleyball. “I struggled at first, I was tired, but I thought it was a great experience. I’m trying to get better.”

“Comic Book Superheroes”

So far, this has far exceeded expectations. According to some of the testimonials we’ve collected, very few first-year students — nicknamed “freshmen” there — make such an impression. Henno’s son’s performances have reverberated so much across the Atlantic that they have reached the ears of the French staff. “He’s a player we watch very closely,” admits Mauricio Pace, Bernardinho’s assistant at LAM and Turquin coach.

“He’s a boy with very interesting physical, technical and mental qualities,” the former Paris volleyball coach continued. Without trying to convince him, Mauricio Paes is convinced that Hilir Henno has the potential to be “a very good receiver.” Admiring his son’s career, Hubert Henno also raved about him: “I’m not necessarily objective, but frankly, I’m really surprised to see him at this level.” Point of the ball, Hilir Henno brings a variety of services and a variety of attacking solutions to his team.

More interestingly, as part of his player development, the specificity of the US College Championship has the advantage of being mature in stress and mental management, technical and physical work. Above all, study time, a luxury he could not get in Europe: “The fact that he is in charge of himself, responsible for himself, managing his daily life and obligations will accelerate his maturation process”, predicts Pace.

Despite his inevitable lack of high-level experience, Hilir Henno was four years ahead of him – before his diploma – and immersed himself in a very competitive and competitive atmosphere that would continue to push him to the limit: “He” If he thinks it’s the right path for him, he’s not afraid of hardship,” David Niffin assured him. His parents showed him the highest level of professionalism and the reality of competition. I think that’s what hopes What makes Lear so special.

In the U.S., Hilir Henno also enjoys the benefits of a sports culture that values ​​human interaction within the team, which is essential in the eyes of Team USA and UCLA coach John Speraw. And the relationship between the coach and his players. Everyone seems to have found their account, and according to their coach, who has the final say.

“As a coach, we loved working with him, admired David Niffin, genuinely conquered him. He was passionate…he was open to learning. He was ready to question our ideas with respect and openness. He knew his strengths. And how these strengths work in the context of a team. He’s like a superhero from the first page of a comic book. As his powers develop, he’ll gain experience, he’ll see why he’s so good, he can do something for others Whatever his talent, I sincerely believe he can be a superhero for any team he joins.”

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