We talked to Whitney Hanenburg for about a half an hour. We talked about basketball, pole vaulting, cheerleading, volleyball, women's sports and their place in the spotlight or lack thereof. We talked about a lot of things. It wasn't until she was directly asked that Whitney Hanenburg even mentioned the large brace on her left ankle. This goes right to the heart of Whitney, a 5' 8" forward from Valley Christian. She shows up to play, she shows up to perform, she shows up to set records, and nothing, not even an injury, will stop her.
As far as that ankle goes Whitney was, surprise surprise, playing ball. This summer she attended the ASU camp and rolled her ankle. That was a little over a month ago, and the ankle hasn't healed completely, "I'll be ready for the start of the season," Whitney said last week as she attended a one on one training session in preparation for the upcoming season. She's still working on her game, even hurt, even though she's also a VC cheerleader right now. Even though she could be playing volleyball on a team that's won state championships. She keeps working, constantly.
"There are things I want to accomplish, and these one on one sessions will help me get there." Whitney said. Among those things, a return to state, where Whitney was named to the All-Tournament team last season. "I'm walking off the court crying because we'd just lost to Thatcher in the championship game and I hear my name called announcing I was All-Tournament. It was like, great, but we just lost."
Along with Carly Crawford and VC's leading scorer Jennifer Ekstrene, Whitney intends on getting back to state and changing the outcome of last year's final game. "I look forward to playing Thatcher again. I hope we face them in the finals again, I want redemption." Which doesn't mean that Whitney has no individual goals. "I want to get to 1000 points this year, to do that I need to average something like 14.7 points a game." Not that she's up on her stats or anything, but she knows that those shots need to come within the offense. "Jennifer is our top scorer, but she can't do it alone, everybody contributes, that's how we win, as a team."
"I want to be All State, I want to be All Tournament, but more than anything I want to win state this year. Our defense really is the way we're going to do that. (VC Asst.) Mark Dejong is really stressing defense. We play man to man, and he's worked really hard with us on our help side D. If we shut other teams down our offense becomes that much easier to run."
Whitney chose cheerleading this year for a very simple reason, she's a senior, and wants to work with her friends. Like anything else she focuses her attention on, she pushes herself in this arena as well, attending training camp this summer to improve. Clearly Whitney knows the importance of being a team player, but this is not to overshadow the fact that she has set personal goals both in basketball, and in pole vaulting. Whitney's name is proudly displayed in the VC gymnasium for setting records individually as pole-vaulter. This accomplishment is getting the attention of colleges interested in Whitney for track.
An all around athlete in so many respects, we went a little further with Whitney and asked her what she thought about the attention granted to female ball players. "My friends say that (girls basketball is) just not as exciting." She shrugged and went on to say that "women don't have the god given talent to dunk, but we play just as hard, we play together, and we get our goals accomplished. We can play." She did not seem to be too concerned with how much or how little attention she and her teammates get, she has set her goals and intends to accomplish them with or without the accolades.
Whitney's goals are certainly within reach; VC is a top contender in 2A this year. This is because of her dedication and how hard she will work for her team. VC knows how to perform as a team, Whitney, Crawford and Ekstrene have been playing together since the 3rd grade, and will continue to do so this season. Whitney didn't feel it necessary to mention an injury, because she know that it's just an obstacle she will overcome on the way to her goals and the goals of her team. Come tournament time the injury will be just as unimportant to everyone else as it is to her.
JimmyJames & Noha