Denali Whitted excelled in a handful of sports at Houston High School. Whitted stood out on the Hawks girls’ basketball, volleyball and soccer squads. But she also didn’t shy away from competing with the boys. When Houston High didn’t have enough players to field a girls’ soccer team, she joined the boys squad. Whitted also helped the Houston football team win a state championship in school history as the squad’s kicker.
“It was a lot of fun. I like playing with the boys, especially for school soccer,” Whitted said recently. “They’re a lot more aggressive.”
Whitted also had success in the classroom. She held a 3.63 grade point average. She was a member of Houston High student government, and earned the school’s Heart of a Champion award in each of her four years at Houston.
Whitted, a 2020 Houston High graduate, has been recognized for all of her success at Houston High. Whitted has been named a Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman/Mat-Su Seahawkers Student-Athlete of the Year. With the award, Whitted received a $1,000 scholarship to assist with her education, courtesy of the Mat-Su Seahawkers.
Whitted was one of five candidates, nominated by local administrators, who met criteria for the award, which includes a minimum grade point average and participation in at least one varsity sport. The list of finalists also included 2020 graduates Sophia Nowers (Palmer), Abby Kenley (Colony), Abbie Fuller (Redington) and Jordyn Cox (Wasilla).
Whitted is now preparing to attend North Idaho College and play for its women’s soccer program.
“I’m pretty excited. I didn’t know if I was going to go play soccer, but I got an opportunity,” Whitted said. “I got caught up with school and everything, and then COVID hit. I wasn’t sure if I was going to college.”
Whitted said she found an old text message from a North Idaho coach, with an offer. That led to her chance. Whitted said she will start taking classes remotely this semester, and plans on being in Idaho in January to join the team.
Whitted said she hopes to pursue a career in a medical field.
Of all the sports she has participated in, soccer stands out, she said. She has been playing since she was 4 years old. Whitted said she also appreciates the experience of playing four different sports at Houston High.
“I liked it. It kept me busy, kept me active,” Whitted said.
For her final three years of high school, Whitted was part of both the football and volleyball teams during the fall.
“It was a little tough, especially because we were doing really good in football,” Whitted said. “I was more with football (my sophomore and junior years). I was going to lean toward volleyball more my senior year because I love playing volleyball. I leaned more toward football because we were doing really good.”
Whitted was part of a historic 2019 season with the Houston football program. The Hawks finished undefeated for the first time, and earned the school its first state football championship.
“It was pretty cool. It was a good experience, one of the highlights definitely,” Whitted said.
Whitted earned second-team all-conference honors in football. She was also a starter in both basketball and volleyball. Her 2020 soccer season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.