The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) honored student-athlete Vanessa Whitfield ’14 as Athlete of the Week for her outstanding performance on the basketball court. Whitfield contributed to her team’s win over Valley Forge Christian College on January 27, posting 49 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Her game-winning skills broke both a NEAC record and a Wilson record.
“I am happy. It is always nice to be honored because we played against a lot of good players. It is cool to be recognized for working hard and playing well,” said Whitfield. “It means a lot. Our team we had some struggles but that week we played really well,” she added.
The NEAC, established 10 years ago, names an exceptional player for every week of the sport’s season. This is not the first time the NEAC has honored a Wilson basketball player with the Player of the Week honor.
Whitfield started playing basketball when she was in the 8th grade. She started playing the game because of her friend and nine years later as a freshman in college, she joined the Wilson Phoenix basketball team.
“What Vanessa has provided to this basketball program has been incredible,” said Phoenix Head Coach Jared Trulear. “Vanessa accomplished a lot statistically to earn that honor and her teammates deserve a lot of credit as well.”
The Wilson Phoenix are a small team comprised of seven players, including Whitfield. Each player is dedicated to both the sport and to their teammates.
“My teammates are excited for me and I am excited for them. We are small team, we are close,” said Whitfield. “We motivate each other because basketball is not all about scoring a lot of points. I am always thinking about how we have to play together.”
Coach Trulear recognizes the NEAC Athlete of the Week honor as a symbol of the teamwork that his team relies upon.
“It means a lot to Vanessa and the team. As a team, we talk a lot about putting yourself and your teammates in the best situations to succeed and we did just that.” said Trulear. Trulear said he believes that Vanessa’s achievement inspires the other players.
“We rely on Vanessa to do a lot and she has embraced that role without complaint. She also does a great job everyday encouraging her teammates to realize their potential and make good basketball decisions,” said Trulear.
Whitfield is happy to inspire her team members and other Wilson College students.
“I always have people around campus and people that I did not even know telling me congratulations. Even people in Chambersburg who know me congratulate me and it so cool.”
Trulear realizes the need to prepare his team for Whitfield’s graduation and intends to strategize for the long and short-term goals needed so that the Phoenix remain successful.
“Everyone on this team has an important role to play to help us finish our season on a positive note to give us some momentum into next season. One thing I can guarantee is that this group of ladies will give their best effort and not lose sight of our short and long term goals. That’s why I love this team and I am proud to be their coach,” said Trulear.
Whitfield will graduate in May. Like most other athletes, she dreams of playing as a professional. Although that dream may not materialize, she has decided upon another, more practical plan for her future. As the Athletic Director of a high school, Whitfield could use her leadership and athletic talents to oversee all the school’s sports programs.
“Earning NEAC basketball Player of the Week Honor will look good on my resume because it tells others that I am good at basketball,” said Whitfield.
“She is a very passionate individual that has the ability to accomplish a lot after graduation. We all want to see Vanessa’s career end on a good note that we all can be proud of,” said Trulear.