Whitney Lowe once dreamed of taking the gridiron but has taken the pitch by storm

mwochnick@theolympian.comDecember 14, 2013 

Whitney Lowe, Black Hills High School’s prolific senior goal scorer and The Olympian’s All-Area girls soccer player of the year, once hoped to play the other kind of football.

“When I was little, I dressed up as a football player for Halloween three years in a row,” she said. “I was always around boys. My dad and my uncles had played football at Tumwater, so I wanted to play it too.”

Alas, parental permission was not forthcoming, but American football’s loss has been soccer’s gain. Lowe scored 31 goals and added 18 assists to lead the Wolves to a 12-0 record in the 2A Evergreen Conference and a 16-3-1 mark overall. Black Hills’ season ended with a first-round loss in the state tournament.

With football out of the question, Lowe’s parents put her into a variety of sports, but as someone who had been drawn to football, she was captivated by the contact and the speed of soccer.

“I started out dribbling around cones when I was 3 and joined my first club team when I was 8,” she said. “I loved the contact, taking the ball from other people and going for goals.”

Black Hills coach Allen Anderson said Lowe has developed her skills and soccer smarts well enough to make opposing coaches give up one of the cherished clichés of the profession — the one that says not to worry about the opponent, to focus instead on your own system, on doing the things your team does well.

“One of the best compliments she got came from another coach, who said she is the one player in our league you have to design a game plan for,” Anderson said. “She has a great combination of speed

and technical skill. She’s easily the fastest player in our league. She wants the ball at her feet and isn’t afraid to take other players on.”

Lowe agrees. Her constant focus is on the frame of the goal and how to put the ball through it.

“I love scoring goals,” she said. “I take one look at the goal, and I want to score. I’m so competitive. I hate losing. I make kind of a game within a game of it. I pretend I’m back dribbling around cones when I go through the other players.”

But Lowe’s one-on-one skills don’t detract from her ability to be a good teammate.

“I really appreciated how well she understood her role as a leader,” Anderson said. “She embraced it and was a role model, teaching and mentoring younger players.”

Lowe said it wasn’t hard, given the group the Wolves had in uniform this fall.

“I’ve never been on a team like this,” she said. “We’re like a family. We’re all like best friends. I wanted to come to every game, to every practice.”

She took it a step further. While Anderson recalled Lowe leading Black Hills back from a two-goal deficit against crosstown rival Tumwater with a goal and an assist on teammate Arin Seidlitz’s equalizer as her signature moment, Lowe had a different memory.

A recruiting visit to Texas-Pan American of the Western Athletic Conference had left her short of the required number of practices to play in the Wolves’ first two games. Finally, in the third game, she was sent on after about 10 minutes.

“I was excited to just get back on the field and play,” Lowe said.

She pointed to converting a penalty kick into the goal she needed for a hat trick during a win over Centralia as another thrill.

“I’m terrible at PKs,” she said.

Lowe, who hopes to become a physical education teacher and coach, carries a memorable nickname. Though she can only remember receiving one yellow card in her career, in a club game at age 14 — “I guess I broke a rule, though I’m still not sure which one” — she has been known in the Black Hills program as “Whit-nasty” since tryouts her freshman year.

“We had an assistant coach who thought I looked so innocent on the field, but then could score goals, so she said, ‘That’s Whit-nasty,’ and it stuck,” Lowe said.

Lowe’s visit to UTPA was one of three she has made from among a large number of colleges that have contacted her. Western Washington was another, but she is leaning toward Central Washington as her top college choice.

“I’ve coached quite a few kids who have gone on to play in college,” Anderson said. “Whitney is without a doubt the best player I have every coached.”

THE OLYMPIAN’S ALL-AREA GIRLS SOCCER TEAM

Pos.NameYearSchool

GKSophie KabelSo.Olympia

Came up clutch in the postseason with 10 penalty-kick saves, helping the Bears advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1995.

DMegan SpataroJr.Olympia

The 4A Narrows MVP’s combination of speed, skill and strength is why coach Tessa Effland calls Spataro a “brick wall of defense.”

DHannah KillmanJr.Olympia

Strong, aggressive and part of a junior trio anchoring a back line that allowed 14 goals in 22 games.

DJulia CarterSr.W.F. West

The 2A Evergreen Conference’s defensive MVP was keen on pressuring opponents.

MFJade CastanedaJr.Timberline

Helped anchor a Blazers offense that led the 3A Narrows in goals (48). Had 11 goals and five assists, and was 4-for-4 on penalty-kick shots.

MFGrae HillSo.North Thurston

Hill was among the elites in the 3A Narrows, notching a team-high 15 assists and scoring six goals to help the Rams reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

MFAnnie RosenSr.Capital

Helped set up the offense for the Cougars, who put up 68 goals (3.4 per game) and earned a 2A District IV tournament berth.

MFAlli ThompsonSr.Black Hills

Was always in control and gave her team much-needed firepower with eight goals and 12 assists.

MF/FLeah MageeSo.Timberline

The 3A Narrows co-MVP powered through constant double teams to notch 11 goals and seven assists in a split role between midfield and forward.

FSharlee FineJr.Tumwater

Helped set up plays with her explosiveness and craftiness. Finished with 10 goals and four assists for the Thunderbirds, who went to the district playoffs.

FCamryn AlthauserSr.Rochester

The 1A SWW Evergreen MVP and Saint Martin’s commit led the Warriors to back-to-back Class 1A state appearances — a first in program history — notching an area-high 33 goals and 14 assists.

FWhitney LoweSr.Black Hills

The Olympian’s All-Area player of the year was a constant game-planning nightmare for opposing coaches. The 2A EvCo offensive MVP had 31 goals and 18 assists.

Coach of the year

Tessa Effland, Olympia

After a runner-up finish in the 4A Narrows, Effland helped propel the Bears to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament.

mwochnick@theolympian.com

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