Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Oklahoma State senior Whitney Wernimont knew what it felt like to start for a soccer team. She played in every game as a club and high school player in Rowlett, Texas. But that all changed when she came to Stillwater.
"My first two years at OSU were a little bit challenging," Wernimont said. "It was difficult adjusting from starting every game in high school and club soccer to not seeing the field a lot those first two years."
Wernimont played defender in Texas during her prep career, but was moved around a lot when she got to college. Coach Colin Carmichael used her as more of a role player.
"Whitney was a really good player on a very good Texas team," Carmichael said. "She started most of the games and was definitely a solid fullback for that team. She came in her freshman year and played some, but was more of a role player coming off the bench when we needed her. Her second year was kind of the same deal, she was a solid contributor, but was not a part of the starting 11."
Some athletes might throw in the towel because of insufficient playing time. Wernimont had the opposite reaction.
"My mindset my freshman and sophomore years was that I was just going to work as hard as I could in practice to try and improve and show Colin what I could do," Wernimont said. "And if I did get the opportunity to play I was going to do whatever I could to help the team win. I think it taught me that things are not always going to be easy, but you have to fight thorough it and hard work really does pay off."
Carmichael noticed an improvement the spring of 2009 and that fall Wernimont received a lot more playing time.
"The spring before last year she really started playing well and then going into the fall she really had a great season," Carmichael said. "We had a nice rotation going with Coleen (Dougherty), (Kelley) Leggett and Whitney, and all three of them did great. Whitney stepped up from being just a 15 minutes a game to 50 or 60 minutes a game player."
Wernimont was excited to be receiving more playing time. Even though she was hoping to start more games, she was more focused on the team as a whole.
"The past two years I have been getting more and more playing time and I think that the biggest difference is that I have more confidence in myself," Wernimont said. "I've always just wanted to help the team out in any way possible, whether that means coming off the bench and making an impact or starting."
Wernimont's new responsibility did not come easily.
"To be a better player, I just try and work my hardest in practice and in the weight room," Wernimont said. "This summer I was in Stillwater in June and July with a lot of girls on our team working out with our strength and conditioning coach so we could make sure that we were in great shape and ready for preseason."
During the fall of 2009, Wernimont played in all 24 games and helped record 14 shutouts on defense. Now in 2010, Wernimont has started every game thus far in the season and is excited to see where this year takes her.
"Coming into the season I didn't know if I would be a regular starter or not, we have some great players on our team and I knew that everyone was competing for positions," Wernimont said. "I think that I put a little bit more responsibility on myself because I'm a senior and I want to do everything possible to help our team have a great year and end my college career on a good note."
Wernimont has been playing predominately in the midfield, but Carmichael says she is a versatile player who can be used anywhere.
"She can play a lot of different positions, which makes her really valuable to a coach," Carmichael said. "If you have a weakness in the back, Whitney can slide to outside back in a heartbeat. She can play center-back if needed and obviously right now she is showing she can play center-mid. It definitely helps your chances of playing if you can be versatile and play a lot of different positions."
As a senior, Wernimont understands she is in a leadership role. She is trying to be more vocal and she also tries to lead by example.
"I think being a senior this year, I've tried to be more vocal than in previous years, whether that's on the field or just trying to encourage people when we were going through our difficult summer and preseason workouts," Wernimont said.
Wernimont has gone from being a role player to one of the more reliable players on the team. Carmichael has been impressed with her improvement and determination.
"We talked with her about how happy we were with her development and her work ethic," Carmichael said. "A lot of kids who don't play early in their career usually just pack it in, but she just kept working hard, never complained, and didn't give up.
"Now she is starting in the center midfield position and she has been really solid and scored a great goal against Oregon. She has really emerged as one of our most consistent players this year."