Katelyn Whittle donned a black protective mask covering her face and proudly walked onto the field ready to showcase her skills with her new team. While the mask hid her face, she wasn’t scared of the challenge ahead of her.
In the beginning of Whittle’s junior year in high school, she was struck in the jaw by an opponent's stick. As a result, she went into shock trauma for three days and had facial reconstruction surgery. She was forced to miss the rest of her junior season.
But Whittle did not give up playing field hockey when she recovered.
“I knew that if I was hesitant, I wouldn’t be the same player,“ Whittle said.
Whittle got back onto the field for her senior season at McDonogh High School in Glenwood, Maryland. When she returned to action, she did so wearing a protective mask, which has become her signature look.
After a successful senior season, Whittle opted to continue her career at Ohio. She got along well with coach Ali Johnstone during the recruiting process, and she knew it was a program that she wanted to be apart of.
It did not take long for Whittle to make an impact for the Bobcats. The freshman midfielder played in her first collegiate game Aug. 30 against Drexel in Ohio’s season opener and scored the game-winning goal in the fourth quarter.
“It was the happiest moment in my life,” Whittle said. “I wouldn’t expect that from my first collegiate game.”
In her first game, she proved that she can make a difference with the Bobcats. She still knows, however, that she has to keep working everyday to continue to improve.
For Whittle, the pace of the game is the biggest difference between high school and college field hockey, but her teammates have helped her make a smooth transition.
“Being a part of a team that is so close is really great,” Whittle said. “Practicing everyday and having games also really helps with the adjustment.”
Whittle has helped Ohio have a successful season so far. She leads all Ohio freshmen with four goals and is second overall in goals scored.
She hopes to continue her successful season, but more importantly, she will do whatever she can for Ohio to win.