xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Roland Park's Whitehurst named Player, Athlete of the Year

Francesca Whithurst, a Roland Park graduate, has been choosen as the <i>Baltimore Messenger</i> female Athlete of the Year. (Tom Worgo, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Francesca Whitehurst couldn't have scripted a much better final year than the one she just completed at Roland Park Country School.

The 2015 Baltimore Messenger Female Athlete of the Year/Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year led the soccer and lacrosse teams in goals and worked as the sixth man on a the basketball squad.

Advertisement

Whitehurst played a big part in helping all three Reds teams advance to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland conference championship games.

"Being able to play in three championships is amazing," said Whitehurst, a Roland Park resident. "It was a great year in each sport. I feel I had to take my game to the next level in each sport. In soccer and lacrosse, I had to be more of a leader this year. I felt I took that step.

Advertisement
Advertisement

"In basketball and soccer, I wanted to make it the most fun because I knew I would never play it again," she added. "I felt because I did that, maybe that is why I ended playing better."

Kristin Nicolini, who stepped down as Roland Park's co-coach after this season, has seen plenty of players come and go in a decade at the helm of her alma mater's lacrosse program.

Nicolini and her sister and co-coach, Regan Koffel, were also standout players at Georgetown University.

"I have been coaching for 10 years and playing my whole life," Nicolini said. "I don't think I have seen a player that dynamic and quick. She was at times unstoppable. I think she is the most athletic girl I have seen."

Advertisement

Like her coaches, the 5-foot-6 Whitehurst will play lacrosse for the Hoyas, choosing them over Northwestern, Duke and Vanderbilt universities, Boston College and Loyola University Maryland.

Whitehurst, who also was the 2014 Baltimore Messenger Girls Athlete of the Year, continues to build an impressive lacrosse résumé.

She will be one of four locals playing on the U.S. Women's National Under-19 team, which will compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 23 to Aug. 1.

"We will be playing Canada, Australia, England and some other countries," said the two-time US Lacrosse All-American. "It will be unbelievable to represent the United States and be able to wear our red, white and blue for a sport we love. I will be proud of that."

She led Roland Park in goals (71), to go with seven assists and 72 draw controls.

The Reds needed a huge season from Whitehurst after the graduation of The Baltimore Messenger 2014 Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year Cece Finney, who racked up 70 goals in her senior year before leading the rookie class at Johns Hopkins University with 29 points this spring.

Whitehurst met the challenge.

"Every team that played us, their game plan was figure out what to do with Francesca," Nicolini explained. "She was either double-teamed early, or face guarded, or a combination of the two. With all that pressure, she still managed to have an amazing season."

For the Roland Park basketball team, Whitehurst's role as first player off the bench helped the Reds to an 18-5 record.

The guard sparked the team with her tenacity by guarding the other team's best player.

"She is one of the most intense kids I have coached," Roland Park basketball coach Scott Buckley said. "I loved her competitiveness. She made everyone else pick it up. We had a full-court press that we called 'Francesca.' "

On the soccer field, Whitehurst earned all-state honors last fall while leading the 12-3-1 Reds in goals with 24 scores.

The forward and four-year starter also was an IAAM B Conference All-Star selection for the third straight season.

"You only see someone with her speed come along once every 10 to 15 years," Roland Park soccer coach Kelly Pierce said. "Some team would put two or three players on her at all times. She could definitely play Division I soccer if she wanted to. She had all the skills you would want in a top player."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement