Gabby Whalen just had a week she’ll never forget. Actually, it all occurred within the span of 24 hours. It started last Tuesday night, as she was immersed in her school books. There was commotion as her dad came home.
“My sister Kennedy flew in and surprised me,” Whalen said. “She’s a senior at Cal-Poly and we’re really close. My dad picked her up [at the airport] and brought her home while I was doing my homework.”
The following morning, Whalen arrived at school to sign a basketball scholarship to play at Smith College in Massachusetts. Seated at a table during a short ceremony, Whalen signed on the dotted line as cameras clicked to capture the moment.
“On my visit I fell in love with it immediately,” she said. “I knew it was the place for me.”
Finally, last Wednesday night, Whalen stood at half court, surrounded by smiling family members. As the only senior on her Falcon basketball team, Whalen was the sole member to be honored during a ceremony prior to a game against Eastlake.
“This gym is home to me, and these girls are family to me,” Whalen said. “It’s definitely hard. Being the only senior makes it harder. Especially because they are all going to be together next year and I’ll be gone.”
Whalen capped off the night with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, to lead Woodinville past Eastlake 52-46.
After the game, Falcon forward Alena Coomar gave her thoughts.
“Gabby is always a great player and a great leader as our only senior,” Coomar said. “She’s had a really big role this year. She really stepped up and was a great leader verbally to all us younger girls.”
Whalen, with that ever-present smile on her face, reflected on her four years at Woodinville.
“A big part for me is the relationships you create,” she said. “If I wasn’t playing basketball I don’t think I would be friends with any of these girls. But because I do, I’m best friends with all of them. Also, we learn basketball from our coach, but he also teaches us about life. ... We have the quote of the day and little lessons that help us in life as well.”
“As a team, we talked about Gabby today,” Woodinville coach Scott Bullock said. “She comes from a great family. She’s a team-first girl. One of the strongest girls to come through here [at Woodinville]. Someone you love seeing in the gym every day. She’s happy and smiling and really pleasant. She means a lot to us.”
Bullock motioned toward assistant coach Sam Moscatel before concluding his thoughts.
“Sam and I talk about it all the time,” Bullock said. “We love all our kids, but some of them are easier to love than others. Gabby is definitely one of those. We’re going to miss her.”