Whitworth volleyball’s Erin White led the Northwest Conference in assists per set as a sophomore and she’s on track to do it again this season as a senior.
In her junior year, she set volleyball aside to concentrate on nursing school and ultimately her career employment path.
White arrived at Whitworth with a plan: tackle school and volleyball for two years before immersing herself in the two-year nursing program offered through Washington State University in downtown Spokane.
White didn’t want to attempt juggling volleyball and the hectic first year of nursing school last year.
“When I got accepted into nursing school, it was this realization that both were such big time commitments,” White said. “I had to take a step back and say ultimately, ‘Why I am at college?’ I was here for school, and I didn’t think it would be fair if I tried to do both and didn’t really commit to both parts equally.”
In retrospect, the 5-foot-5 setter knows she made the right call, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision. White, a first-team All-NWC selection as a sophomore, knew volleyball road trips would have resulted in numerous class absences and “you can’t afford to do that first semester of nursing school.”
“It was so hard,” she said. “It was nice because we had weekends off and I’ve never had that before, but my housemates were all still on the team.”
White worked at Costco on weekends to help pay the bills. She said her interest in nursing was nurtured by her mom, who is in the medical field.
“I like the holistic care of nursing,” said White, a product of Lakewood High in Arlington, Washington. “You care about their physical health and their emotional health is just as important. I love being at the bedside.”
White’s passion for volleyball remained resolute throughout her junior year. It grew stronger when teammates asked her to set at open gyms last spring.
“As soon as you get back on the court, you just miss it,” White said. “You remember how much fun this is.”
White started contemplating a return to the team. The second-year nursing school schedule – clinicals Monday at Deaconess from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday at Sacred Heart at the same times, classes Thursday and Friday – was more agreeable with playing volleyball.
She discussed it with friend Emily Schwisow, a Whitworth soccer player who is also in the nursing program. White decided that she wanted to play volleyball again and planned to contact coach Kati Bodecker the next day.
Turns out White and Bodecker were already on the same page.
“Coach literally called me that night and said, ‘Do you have time to talk?’ ” White said.
White ranks No. 1 in the conference at 10.26 assists per set, guiding an offense that is second in hitting percentage. Whitworth (12-5, 6-1 NWC), after defeating Whitman on Wednesday, holds a half-game lead over Puget Sound and preseason favorite Pacific Lutheran. The Pirates swept the ninth-ranked Lutes on Saturday.
“I really admire her, her work ethic and commitment to be successful at both,” Bodecker said. “It takes a special person that is obviously mentally tough and self aware to do that.”
White is happy. And busy. If she misses classes because of a road trip, she catches up by watching them online.
“It’s been so worth it,” White said. “After practice or a game or on the bus ride home with the girls, I’m so grateful. I really love our team and our chemistry. It feels like I never left.”
Vandals back home
Preseason Big Sky favorite Idaho returns home for the first time since Aug. 25 when it entertains Sacramento State (8-10, 3-1 Big Sky) on Thursday.
The Vandals (8-8, 2-2) went 6-7 away from home over the last six weeks. They are tied for sixth but have time – and six of eight October matches at Memorial Gym – to make up ground. Five of their next eight are against foes above them in the standings.
North Idaho College’s Hailee Etter (Shadle Park High) was named last week’s NWAC East Offensive Player of the Week. Spokane’s Lindsey Russell (Mead) and Demary Sugg shared the setting award and NIC’s Hope DeLeon won defensive honors.
Whitworth’s Jessica Schmautz (Lakeside High, CCS) was named NWC Offensive Player of the Week. She averaged 4.63 kills per set against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.
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