Winning the Whipple way

Pictured is the Whipple family of Valmeyer, from left, daughter and senior volleyball player Paige Whipple, brother and junior high baseball and basketball player Andrew Whipple, and father and assistant coach Bruce Whipple. The Whipples have had a child in all three Valmeyer state appearances this year. (Teryn Schaefer photo)

“It’s cool to have three sports go to state and then with a brother and a sister.” That’s just what happened for Andrew Whipple, his family and Valmeyer athletics this year.

The Pirates had two junior high teams go to state: the baseball, and most recently, basketball teams, while the high school volleyball team went to state as well.

The Whipples were apart of all three experiences, as their daughter Paige Whipple was a captain of the volleyball team, their son Andrew played junior high varsity basketball and baseball, and their father Bruce was an assistant coach on both of Andrew’s teams.

“I don’t think any of us, back in September, would have thought any of this would have ended this way,” Bruce said. “It’s been a fun ride. I think everyone has enjoyed it. From the kids, the parents, the community as whole and the school. It has generated a lot of school spirit. Something that’s fun to be apart of.”

The three-peat experience has also formed a common bond between the two siblings.

“Now that we’ve both gone to state we know what it feels like, we have stuff in common now,” Andrew said.

Their parents have enjoyed seeing their kids come together as well.

“Both Andrew and Paige are so excited for each other and have become so close in sharing their lifetime dreams with each other,” their mom Toni Whipple said, adding that a moment in particular really summed it up for the family when Paige and the Pirates won their super sectional game at home and advanced to state for the first time in school history.

Paige said when the last point was scored and the team celebrated she knew the three people she wanted to hug where her parents and her brother.

“I stepped out of the crowd and the first person I saw running toward me was (Andrew),” Paige said. “It was heartwarming because I knew he was there supporting me the entire road.”

Valmeyer’s Andrew Whipple hugs his sister Paige after the Pirates’ super sectional win to advance to the state tournament. The two have hugged each other and shared in their three state appearances this year together as Pirates. (submitted photo)

Paige then got her turn to hug her brother when his team played in its state game at Rend Lake College Feb. 1, despite the junior Pirates loss.

“I wanted him to know that even though they didn’t make it as far at state as they wanted to, there isn’t anything they could have done,” Paige said speaking from her experience. “I wanted to let him know that he played great and had a huge future ahead of him.”

Their father said it’s been a joy to watch his kids learn and grow together.

“I think its that bigger lesson of life, that anything you want to accomplish you can do it as long as you concentrate and work hard for it.”

But it’s also been a great learning experience for the Valmeyer athletic community as a whole. Bruce pointed to volleyball coach Jenny Kohnz’s quote after the girls played their last game at state.

“Now they know, little old Valmeyer’s put themselves on the map.”

In order to do so Bruce points to the parents, the families and the school putting in a collaborative effort.

He said a group of parents with kids Andrew’s age got together when the kids were younger and realized they had a strong group of athletic kids. They said, “If we will work with them and push them they can accomplish some great things by the time they get out of high school. And help to be the foundation of what we hope is a long running future.”

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