Windermere Prep’s Emily Whitt’s year just keeps getting better. After a perfect season with the girls lacrosse team, Whitt will travel to Baltimore in May to play for the national team.
Sitting at her space in the locker room, Emily Whitt goes over the usual motions as she prepares for Windermere Prep’s last home lacrosse game.
It’s the afternoon of Monday, April 11, and her mind is on one thing: what lies ahead of her on the lacrosse field. The last thing on her mind is the US National High School Women’s Lacrosse Team tryout she had the week before.
“It was the last game of the season — I was super nervous, because we had an undefeated streak,” Whitt said.
The stress of the moment hung about, before it was broken by some news she hadn’t been expecting — she had gotten the invite to join the National Team.
“I found out, and I literally screamed,” Whitt said. “I couldn’t believe that I made it. It was probably some of the best news I’ve ever received in my life, because I knew it was going to open so many doors for my future.”
That day, the Lakers got the win, finishing the season at a perfect 12-0 for the first time in program history.
Although unexpected success of this season ended with no playoff appearance — the SSAC does not hold a tournament for girls lacrosse — Whitt now is looking forward to a trip to Baltimore in May to take part in a national tournament with the National Team. From May 24 to 26, Whitt will compete in front of the watchful eyes of some of the best coaches in the country.
“All the colleges are playing too, because it’s their nationals as well, and so there are going to be hundreds of college coaches there watching us play,” Whitt said. “I really hope this allows me to get my foot in the door.”
Just getting this chance to perform required a lot of Whitt, who found out about the team from first-year head coach Hayley Ferone.
Enticed by the idea, Whitt went to the tryout Thursday, April 7, at the University of Central Florida. The first thing Whitt recalled was how stiflingly hot it was — and also how talented the girls were.
“I was super nervous going into it, because I’ve never played with anyone else before — I’ve only played with the girls at my school,” Whitt said. “We were warming up and everything and I was playing, and I was like, ‘Wow, these girls are on such a different level than I’m used to.’
“I told myself, ‘I need to step it up. If I want to play on this team, I need to play the best I’ve ever played in my life,’” she said. “We were doing different drills and everything, and I felt myself — honestly — improve my level of play within the three hours of the tryout.”
What followed was an invite for the junior middie — and the latest big accolade for a girl who thought she would eventually become a dancer.
Starting at age 2, Whitt had established herself as talented dancer — going into competitive dance at 7 years old.
“It was a big shock to everyone that I started playing lacrosse,” Whitt said. “I always thought I was going to be a dancer when I grew up, and I was super interested in that. My parents always wanted me to play sports, and I was so against it — I was like, ‘No, I would never do that,’ and ‘I’m not playing unless the uniform is pink.’”
That mindset was changed the summer before middle school started, when she took part in a lacrosse clinic with her best friend, who played club lacrosse.
“I found out, and I literally screamed. I couldn’t believe that I made it. It was probably some of the best news I’ve ever received in my life, because I knew it was going to open so many doors for my future.”
— Emily Whitt
She saw it as a way to possibly make friends who would be going to middle school with her. Although she made friends, something happened that she wasn’t expecting — she became hooked.
“When I was playing, I was like, ‘This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life — it’s a combination of so many different sports in one game,’” Whitt said. “I really fell in love with the strategy of the game, the speed of the game and how it was super physical.”
A few years later, she would drop dance in the eighth grade to focus on her lacrosse playing. Since then, she has become a key member of the varsity team. She’s the only player on the team who has been with the program since it started as a club back when she was in sixth grade.
From that decision years ago to the success she has experienced with the Lakers lacrosse team now, it’s no surprise Whitt has no regrets from devoting so much time to the sport.
“I’m so thankful I made that decision, because — I don’t know — lacrosse is just more my speed, and I love the fast pace and everything,” Whitt said. “I love pushing myself to the fullest.”