Whaley crowned new scoring queen of Lady Flyers’ soccer

Published 2:45 am Saturday, September 5, 2020

Emma Whaley (10) battles a Chesapeake Lady Panthers player for possession of the ball. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

In British royalty, the lowest level for a female is called a Dame.
When Emma Whaley began playing soccer at a young age, she might have been considered a Dame. But as the years went by, she rose up the ladder of ranking.
And when the St. Joseph Lady Flyers’ senior forward registered her second goal in a win against Portsmouth West last Monday, Whaley climbed to the rank “Queen of Scoring” in the history of Lady Flyers’ soccer.
Whaley was aware she was getting close to the record coming into the season and she was excited to have the record, but she was reluctant to accept the attention.
“I knew I was close. I didn’t know how many away. I knew that I was going to get it that game, I just didn’t know what goal,” said Whaley.
“I didn’t even really think about it. My sophomore year — my first year playing on the girls’ team — I didn’t even know that it was really a thing. I started scoring and people started talking about it and that threw me off for a minute. Any time somebody started talking about it, I’d tell them to stop. I didn’t want to know.”
The only thing that could have stopped Whaley from reaching the scoring record would be if the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
“I gained some confidence as the years went on and my parents told me that I was getting close. I was worried that it wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have a season, but luckily we did,” said Whaley.
Lady Flyers’ veteran head coach Dan Blair had nothing but accolades for the talented Lady Flyers’ player.
“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of coaching hundreds of young men and women along with three all-state soccer players and several who went on to the college ranks, but none more dedicated and determined than Emma” said Blair.
“She is always prepared and ready to help out her teammates. She is a true leader on and off the field and just an all-around delightful young lady. It has been my pleasure to coach her over the past three years and I look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the rest of the season.”
Whaley’s third goal gave her the record as she surpassed former record-holder Lyndsey Booker who had 76. The boys’ record is 77 held by Payton Blair, coach Blair’s son.
The girls did not have a team her freshman season and they had to play on the boys’ team. Obviously, getting to play for a girls-only team gave Whaley the opportunity to exhibit her scoring skills.
Whaley began honing her skills throughout a career that began when she was in grade school at St. Lawrence Elementary. She began changing positions until she was put in a position that enabled her to use her speed and athleticism to score.
“When I was really young, maybe second or third grade, I played defense and then I went to midfield and I moved up to midfield wing in junior high and not until my sophomore year in high school I became a forward,” said Whaley.
“I think it’s easier to score when you’re up top, the only thing is some teams — if they know you can score — they’ll put two or three people on you. It just depends on who you are playing. I think that it’s easier to score up front but I do like playing left wing. It’s fun to pass.”
Whaley sees the record more as a tribute to her overall work ethic than to just be a great scorer.
“It means a lot. It means all my hard work paid off. I’ve been playing soccer my whole life and I was glad that I was able to leave a mark,” said Whaley.
A bonus factors to come from Whaley’s scoring ability is how much it helps the Lady Flyers’ team. Whaley and Emilee Blankenship are the only two seniors on a team that reached the district tournament last season.
“A lot of girls have really stepped up. We’re really young. We only have two seniors and we have five great freshmen who came up and really showed up in our games,” said Whaley.
“I think that our passing is getting better and we’re really selfless in how we play and we just want everybody to do their best.”
Besides soccer, Whaley also plays basketball and she has been one of the Lady Flyers top scorers in that sport as well. But when it comes to basketball, Whaley doesn’t have an explanation for why she is a scorer in that sport as well.
“I couldn’t tell you. I just try to help in whatever way I can. If scoring is how I can help the team, then that’s what I’ll do,” said Whaley.
One thing that doesn’t matter to soccer but can hinder Whaley is basketball is her 5-foot-3 size.
“In basketball, it makes it harder going up for layups and rebounds, but in soccer it’s never really been a problem for me. It’s not really about size in soccer. You can just really play whatever position no matter what size you are. It depends on how hard you work and your skill set,” said Whaley.
“I think it’s not so much size but strength. I was really weak my sophomore year and I got thrown around quite a bit. As I’ve gotten stronger over the years, it’s been easier and when you gain confidence and you keep playing it gets easier not to get knocked around and stand up to people. I’ve never really had any problem being short playing soccer. I think my size helps with my speed and that really helps with a forward.”
As a senior, it’s typical for Whaley to occasionally turn her thoughts to post-high school life. She admits that playing at the next level is definitely on the table.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I was playing travel ball with a coach out at Waverly in the spring and I’ve been talking to him about playing college somewhere. I’ve been in contact with some places. I went to a (college) practice or two and people have my schedule to come watch me,” said Whaley.
“But I’m really just keeping my options open and I’m hoping to go somewhere close to home whether I’m playing or just going to school. I’m not sure what I want to major in.”
Whaley may not know what she plans for a major in college, but it’s certain that if she plays soccer she will minor in scoring.

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