Bonshak, Whittick among those to sign
It was the first step in what will be the next chapter in their academic and athletic lives as five Whitehall student athletes participated in the National Letter of Intent signing ceremony that was held in November. The fall signing period featured Kate Bonshak, Ella Holmes, Grace Clary, Shane Fillman and Kresstoph Whittick.
For Bonshak, the event was merely a formality, the finality to a decision that was made in the beginning of her sophomore year.
The school in Blacksburg, Virginia, was a natural fit for the four-year starter. It not only offered a great soccer program, one that competes for a national title year in and year out, but also provides an excellent learning environment.
“I chose Virginia Tech because of the academic and athletic opportunities that were available to me,” said Bonshak who finished her senior season with 21 goals. “I absolutely love the campus and feel very comfortable with my future teammates and coaches. Their soccer program stands out in regards to their success on and off the field, and I look forward to having the chance to be apart of these successes.”
The Hokies finished 12-5-2 last season. They’re led by Charles “Chugger” Adair who’s compiled a 118-53-20 through his nine seasons at the helm. He’s also guided them to three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances during that span.
Bonshak said that she’ll be studying Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise as an undergraduate.
Bonshak’s final year wearing the maroon and gold was abruptly ended when she suffered a knee injury that will sideline her the rest of her senior season. She said her goal was to come back from her ACL and meniscus tear as soon as arrives on campus.
“I hope to build back up to the player I was before and then continue to grow to be better,” said Bonshak. “I hope to connect well with my teammates and coaches and build bonds with these girls that I will be living and playing with.”
Bonshak finished her high school career with 89 goals. She was also league MVP for two consecutive seasons, and has been named the area’s player of the year by numerous publications on multiple occasions. She was also a member of this year’s Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-State team, a selection she earned as a junior as well.
She was a player that opposing coaches had to game plan for since the forward was a game changer. While the district playoffs eluded her during her last season, the cumulative experiences compiled over four years are vivid.
“The memories from these four years are truly endless,” said Bonshak. “I have made such strong relationships with so many of these girls and was able to grow as a person and a player. Ella (Holmes) and I got to play for the coach (Chris Bleam) who has coached us since we were seven. He has had such an impact on my soccer life and I am forever grateful for him. I was also able to play with my cousin (Cara Bonshak) and sister (Emma Bonshak) each for one season, which I will hold close in my heart always.”
Bonshak was also aided by a supportive family who nurtured and guided her journey.
“My family has had such an important role throughout these four years, and all the years before that,” Bonshak said. “I have the strongest support system from them, and they are the reason I am here today. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate the sacrifices of my parents. My family is everything to me, and I want to thank them for never giving up on me and continuing to push me to always go harder to reach my goals.”
Bonshak said that friends, family, coaches and teachers were all influential in helping her achieve her goal of playing Division I soccer.
Whittick will be attending West Chester University in the fall. The senior said he chose West Chester for its beauty and its location, two attributes that helped sell him on the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference school.
“It really fits me well,” he said.
While it’s a great fit academically, he said the biggest selling point was the interest shown by head coach Michael Benn.
“He has been tracking me for a long time, watching my games at various showcases and tournaments,” said Whittick.
Whittick was aware of their presence during these events and during his junior year, Benn expressed interest in bringing him into the Golden Ram family.
“I was extremely thankful and excited,” Whittick said.
Whittick will be a business major, but hasn’t identified a particular discipline in the field right now.
As for his goals, Whittick wants to be on the dean’s list, and wants to intersect that with community activism. He realizes the impact he can have off the field is just as important, or perhaps more important, than what he can do on the field.
Last season the Golden Rams finished 14-5-1 and made it to the first round of the NCAA tournament where they were ousted by Assumption College 2-1 in double overtime.
Whittick said that he uppermost in his mind is being a good team player and leader. That will lay the foundation for winning a PSAC Championship, something he wants during his time with the team.
Whittick’s performance this season landed him a spot on the EPC’s first team. He was the team’s top goal scorer, netting 23 goals. He also had 10 assists. His 23 goals were a single season record for the boys program, and he also holds the career record for goals (47) and assists (31). These were accomplished in three years of varsity action.
He wants to maintain that level of secures in college and has his mind set on becoming their top scorer as well. He’s hopeful that the work he puts into the game will open other doors as well.
“If I develop as much as I want to, my next step will be getting selected for the Jamaican or U.S. National Team, and then professionally,” said Whittick.
While he wants that to come to fruition, he said the first step is to have the team in West Chester come first because he learned that team success far outweighs personal accomplishments. That was evident in their district run this fall when they made it to the finals, an experience he’ll never forget.
His fondest memory over those three seasons was the journey they took this fall, wearing the mantle of underdog throughout the District 11 playoffs to reach the finals, an appearance that also qualified them for the state tourney.
“For me, my best memory was the game-winning goal against Liberty in the district quarterfinals,” said Whittick.
He also acknowledged that his three-goal performance against former national champs Arlington as a member of Lehigh Valley United this season, also stands out, the best soccer game he ever played.