September 15, 2012

A Central Leader

By Zach Guerette
Special to GoHolyCross.com

It is a common theme throughout every level of football that adversity stemming from injury is virtually inevitable. It happens in the National Football League all the way down to high school, however the only thing that matters is how players deal with this adversity. Senior offensive lineman Sean Whited has made a name for himself as being one of the toughest players in the Holy Cross football program after dealing with three serious knee injuries and still coming back to dominate on the field.

Whited uses these experiences to move forward and learn as a football player and as a human being. "I have learned that adversity is inevitable and it is how you handle the situation that defines your character." Whited said. "I've had too many injuries during my career at Holy Cross but I've found a way to bounce back and turn it into a positive and defining experience." He fought hard and came back last season with incredible determination starting all 11 games at center and was named second team All-Patriot League. Whited and his teammates on the offensive line were incredibly strong and resilient allowing only 21 sacks all season while the team attempted 431 passes.

Game day is a sacred thing in an athletes minds and it comes with normal preparation beyond just practice. Routines on game days become incredibly important to many individuals and Whited is no exception. "Every athlete has routines," Whited said. "I like to put on headphones and go through the game in my head. I love everything about game day. Little things like getting off the bus by Fitton Field and seeing the fans line up and greet us while we walk to the locker room or walking to the field with the team."

The powerful fifth-year senior captain who stands at 6'3" and weighs 273 pounds is naturally used to a life consumed by football. He grew up in the football mecca of Canton, Ohio, which houses the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Starting football in middle school, Whited's dream was to play in front of his family, friends and the rest of the 15,000 fans that come to watch McKinley High School football. His passion ultimately led them to success winning the Federal League titles in both 2005 and 2006, with the 2005 team posting a perfect 10-0 record. Whited went on to become a two-time first team All-Federal League selection and as a senior earned Division 1 first team All-Ohio honors. The high school standout started receiving letters from colleges to continue playing the sport that he loved so he was sold immediately. "The best feeling in the entire world is playing in a football game, so I was very interested in continuing that passion in college," said Whited. This is the same mentality that convinced him to accept his fifth year. Whited has been playing since he was in middle school and was not ready to give up his passion.

Now over 600 miles from home, Whited still plays with the same intensity and motivation that harbored his success in Canton. However, football was not the only reason Whited decided to come to Holy Cross. When asked about his decision to come all the way to central Massachusetts and play as a Crusader, Whited said, "I chose Holy Cross for several reasons. First, the combination of great athletics and excellent academic reputation is an easy sell for any potential student-athlete. What really set Holy Cross apart was the Jesuit values that shine through every person involved on the campus. When I visited the school I felt a strong sense of community from every student, faculty member and coach. People are friendly, courteous and display a real concern for your well-being. Any doubts I had about coming to Worcester were gone after my visit to the school."

Something that many Holy Cross students hear during their stay is "men and women for others," which is an incredibly important value and something that Whited lives by. He plans on taking the positive values that are instilled in the Holy Cross community with him after he graduates and use them to fulfill a successful future.

One of those values is a sense of family. Going from having your family at every single game in your career to not being able to look up and see them in the stands is a difficult transition for any player. Although, the Whited family still supports him in every way possible. His mother watches most of the games online and waits for him to update her after every game. Even across the country, Whited's family continues to be the biggest supporters in his life.

Everybody hates to leave the school that has harbored ones growth and development for many years. However, Whited is very excited to explore his future goals. Being a tremendous student and athlete is something Whited takes to heart earning Patriot League Academic Honor Roll accolades for the past two years. Without anything holding him down Whited has endless opportunities in any path he chooses to pursue. When asked what he wants to do post-graduation Whited responded, "At this point it is still very up in the air. It's an exciting time because I still do not have to commit to anything and I can explore the job market. I had a tremendous internship experience over the summer so I hope that I can pursue a full-time position with that company. I have always dreamed of going to law school so that is also an option."

As a leader of the Crusaders, Whited knows exactly what coach Tom Gilmore expects out of him and the entire team. "Coach Gilmore demands discipline and dedication to the team. He always tells us that anything worth doing will be hard," Whited said. "These are all great values to have and I plan on carrying them with me beyond Holy Cross."

The goal every year is to win the Patriot League title. Everyone wants to keep playing through Thanksgiving break. With the leadership of Whited and the other senior players, Holy Cross should have the discipline and dedication it needs to have a successful season.

This story originally appeared in the September 15 edition of the Holy Cross Game Day Program, for the contest between the Crusaders and Brown. To order a copy of the program, click here.