Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Wade Gebbers, men's basketball

He may be fairly quiet and reserved, but as captain of the Whitworth men’s basketball team, senior Wade Gebbers may be one of the most respected people on the Whitworth campus. He is, as head men’s basketball coach Matt Logie put it, “our old wily vet on the team.”  And while he has become a role model for his teammates, has maintained strong academics, and begins to start a family of his own, he maintains a maturity beyond his years.

The Gebbers name has a legacy of its own.  It’s hard to be exposed to basketball circles in Washington without hearing the Gebbers name mentioned.  In his sophomore year at Whitworth, Wade was starting alongside his brother, Clay Gebbers, and his cousin Michael Taylor, who went on to become the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.

“I come from a pretty small town,” Gebbers said.  “Even though we come from a pretty humble family, [Brewster] is now referred to sometimes as ‘Gebbers nation.’”

Now a senior, Gebbers has taken more of a leadership role.

“I used to be more of a distributor, and I still try to do that as a point guard,” Gebbers said. “But I have more responsibility now to make myself and the team better.”

His teammates, however, admire him for his character.

“He leads by example,” junior guard Dustin McConnell said.  “He doesn’t just talk a lot.”

“When we’re on the court, it’s his leadership that gets to you,” freshman guard George Valle said.  “He’ll look you in the eyes during a timeout and say, ‘We need you to score here,’ and you’ll really want to do it.’”

Gebbers’ passion for helping his teammates is almost equalled to his competitive attitude.

“I want to win,” Gebbers said. “But my main focus is to win while doing the right things, like helping my teammates out.”

Logie can tell that much is obvious.

“He’s got that sense for the moment; he’s not afraid of big shots, while he’s also as selfless a player as I’ve ever seen,” Logie said. “It’s a difficult balance.”

While his personality is obvious to those who have known him for so long, the first impressions some of his teammates have of him are a different story.

“There was this game against George Fox,” McConnell said. “And all of a sudden, he just went off for like 20 points in the second half.  That was the first time I thought that, ‘Geez, this guy is good.’”

Valle said his first impression came on his recruiting visit, early last year.

“I was there for a visit and Logie was introducing me to the team right before an open gym practice.  Wade is standing to Logie’s right, but as Logie goes around the circle, he forgets to give Wade an introduction.  He’s sitting there with his glasses on, all quiet and reserved, looking kind of nerdy,” Valle said.

This was only the beginning though, as Valle soon found out. “I’m thinking, ‘Who is this guy?’” Valle said.  “He must be some kind of joke if the coach forgets to introduce him.  I got matched up with him right off and I thought the guys were matching me up with one of the weaker players on the team, being nice to the recruit.  Next thing I know, he’s just lighting me up from all over the place.”

Gebbers might lead one of the most unconventional lives of any athlete at Whitworth.  After getting married in August of this past year, Gebbers is expecting a baby girl in February.

Although his somewhat unorthodox college life is different in comparison to those on the team, Gebbers says that it’s nothing new.

“I’ve never had the same routine as other guys, especially now,” Gebbers said.  “We’ll be in the locker room and guys will be talking about their weekends and what movie they’re going to see that night.  When they end up asking me what my plans are for the evening, I end up telling them that I’m hanging out with my wife and she’s making dinner.  They tell me I’m an old man,” Gebbers said, laughing.

While his early life decisions may fill up his busy life even more, his teammates know that he made them on his own terms.

“He was ready to make that choice to start a family, and I really admire him for that,” McConnell said.

At the same time, Gebbers said that he still wants to be competitive in basketball and pass some of his lessons on to the next generation of Pirate basketball players.

“Above winning, above highlights, what has been most satisfying to me is being a team player,” Gebbers said.  “I want them to enjoy this experience while they have it and understand how special it is to be here.  We’re doing this for each other.”

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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Spotted from the crow's nest: Elisabeth Spencer, women’s cross country

The Whitworth women’s cross country team, led by one of its top performers, junior Elisabeth Spencer, are poised for a run at the Northwest Conference championship. Although projected to finish fourth, Spencer, with her uncanny positivity and loving attitude, may have something to say about the projected finish. “She is extremely positive,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. “She brings that along with her competitiveness to her teammates.”

Spencer attended high school in Tacoma, Wash., starting cross country her sophomore year. She knew she wanted a small and friendly community for college, which is why she loved Whitworth.

Elisabeth Spencer 10-11 022-2
Elisabeth Spencer 10-11 022-2

“You’re going to see a lot of your friends everyday,” Spencer said. “I love being able to see people I know all the time.”

As for cross country, Spencer has a passion for running. Not only does she enjoy running in races, but also running outside of the sport. It’s the best way to experience new places, she said. Add a little bit of competition into the mix, and the result: cross country.

The competitive aspect, however, came later for Spencer. Schwarz said she did not have the same aggressive attitude that she has this year during her freshman year. She still brought her loving attitude and excitement to practice and races, but did not own the same drive to win that she has today.

“The one thing I notice the most is her excitement and positivity, no matter the circumstances,” sophomore and teammate Christina Anderson said. “She is also growing into a great competitor.”

According to Anderson, Spencer is important to the team not only because of points, but also because of her attitude. She is constantly bringing other people up and showing the enthusiasm that many of her teammates may lack at times. And now, complementing her positive attitude is a new sense of competitiveness.

“This year she has been competitive at practice, she has been competitive at meets, attitude wise, and because of that she has been running up to her ability,” Schwarz said.

Schwarz and Anderson both had many positive things to say about Spencer. They mostly revolved around her compassion and caring mentality, but also her new sense of competitiveness.

“I came into this year with a lot more confidence,” Spencer said. “And that allowed me to do better, which allowed competing to be more fun.”

What will Spencer get out of her experience at Whitworth? Not only does Schwarz help the team with running, but also in becoming more well-rounded people. The topic could be anything from spiritual to academic, and Spencer still finds Schwarz a helpful mentor, allowing her to not only take away a great running experience from collegiate cross country, but also many lessons in different aspects of life.

Korey HopeStaff Writer

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The Crow's Nest: Oliver and Lyle Rudnicki, men’s golf

As Whitworth prepares for a run at the conference championship, it will need help from a large freshmen group, including freshmentwins Lyle and Oliver Rudnicki. Looking back on their journey, the twin brothers have gone through quite a bit to get here. Born in England, the brothers ended up moving to Redmond, Wash., with their family and attended Redmond High School soon after.

After playing for nine years, it was important to the twins to be in a smaller, more intimate class setting for college.  Head coach Warren Friedrichs introduced that environment to them with Whitworth.

“They didn’t express a need to stay together when going to college,” Friedrichs said.  “They’re not rooming together and they have very different academic interests.”

Despite this, Lyle and Oliver both liked the hospitality of the student body and the way they fit in on the team.  Their competitive nature was only heightened by this experience.

“We’ve always been competitive with each other,” Lyle said.  “When you have a twin brother, you’re competitive in everything, and I mean everything.”

When the men’s season began, not even Lyle and Oliver knew what kind of impact they would have on the team.  Over the last two tournaments, the twins splashed onto the scene.  Lyle had a first-place finish at the Whitman Invitational on Oct. 1.  After beating his brother in the previous tournament, Oliver also had a noteworthy finish at the Whitman invitational, finishing 10th overall.

“They have very different personalities,” Friedrichs said.  “Oliver is more quiet, while Lyle is more of a carefree kid.”

The significant personality differences have even generated a nickname for Lyle.

“Yeah, coach calls Lyle “cas” because he’s so casual and relaxed when he plays out there,” Oliver said.  “Me, I like being serious when I play; it helps me stay focused.”

However, Friedrichs is not the only one to notice the contrasting personalities.

“Lyle will hit a bad hole and laugh it off, but they both play very relaxed out there in their own way,” junior golfer Jesse Salzwedel said.

Being relaxed has granted the brothers the ability to stay mentally positive during matches.

Despite their outstanding game mentality, it is their work ethic in practice that gets Coach Friedrichs’ attention.

“I was impressed initially, and still am, in the fact that they both spend so much time working on every facet of their game,” Friedrichs said.

That work ethic is something the twins have carried with them for a long time.

“You can’t get better until you make your weaknesses your strengths,” Oliver said.

As the Pirates progress through the season with aspirations for postseason play, the Rudnicki twins hope to be a part of it as best they can.

“They care a lot about what they do and they really want to contribute to our success,” Salzwedel said.

The freshmen brothers will look to continue their strong play and help Whitworth as the season goes on.

“We really just want to do what we can for our teammates,” Lyle said.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Whitney Santos, volleyball

When fans watch senior Whitney Santos on the volleyball court they notice her energy and effort. What they probably don’t notice is that she wears the same bow every game and that she always wears two left socks. She sits in the same seat before every game and uses the same pen to write, “Do work and win” on the bottom of her paper every single game.

But the success of Whitworth’s superstitious libero can’t only be attributed to the luck of following her rituals. It is her standout work ethic and energy that allow her to be such an important part of the volleyball team.

“Whitney is a total stud,” teammate Kristine Kardell said. “You know that she’s fast and that she’s agile. She’s going to make any play that’s possible for her to make.”

Santos started playing volleyball competitively when she was in sixth grade, and since then her passion for playing the game has continued to grow.

“Volleyball is my life. It’s my escape and I’m super-competitive,” Santos said. “Volleyball just allows me to compete and do something I love at the same time.”

This spirit she exudes is seen on and off the court and spreads to her teammates, inspiring them to follow her example.

Her competitive drive and team-first attitude have made Santos an integral part of the volleyball program. After redshirting her freshman year, Santos returned in the 2010 season and was named Second Team All-NWC as a libero.

“She motivates you to work hard because you see how hard-working she is,” Kardell said. “It’s easy to slack off when someone else is, too, but when she is constantly giving her all it makes everyone else on the court want to push themselves harder as well.”

Santos’ motivation comes from her competitive mindset and willingness to do whatever it takes to benefit the team, as well as trying to make her family proud.

Already averaging over 15 digs per game this season, Santos is looking to continue to use her strengths to have a positive impact on the team.

“I have a spark of energy,” Santos said. “I might not have the most technical or fundamentally sound fundamentals, but I bring a lot of energy and spark on the court and try to spread my energy because I have such a competitive spirit.”

Santos also brings the team together in ways not necessarily seen on the court during games, but also in ways that stand out to teammates and coaches.

"She really brings the team together with her sense of humor,” Kardell said. “She’s able to have fun on the court and brings not only her competitive athleticism but also a sense of humor. We always say ‘The happy team always wins,’ and she helps make that happen.”

Santos’ leadership comes from a love of the game and a love for her team.

“The whole is greater than the individual here and everyone on the court next to you is like your family,” Santos said. “I consider every one of my teammates as a sister and I love all of them dearly. We care so much about each other on and off the court.”

The love, dedication, effort and influence Santos brings to Whitworth volleyball will continue to play a huge role in the success the Pirates have this season.

Megan John Staff Writer

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Spotted from the crow's nest: Mackenzie Grow, women's soccer

Senior midfielder Mackenzie Grow is a leader who has left a legacy that will be felt far into the future of Whitworth soccer. “Her character on and off the field serves as a fantastic example to future members of the team of what it means to be a Whitworth women’s soccer player,” head coach Jael Hagerott said.

Grow has played soccer for Whitworth all four years and is now team captain. Grow started playing soccer when she was five years old. She played for one season and then quit.

“My parents put me into it, but I hated it at first,” Grow said.

She made the choice to play again a year later when all her friends decided to play. Once she started to play again, she never looked back. Mackenzie was a seven-year participant of the Spokane Soccer Academy. She also spent two years as a Spokane Soccer Academy Junior Coach.

Grow went to Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane. She was a two-time All-Greater Spokane League honoree during her  junior and senior seasons.

As a freshman, Grow started 19 out of the team’s 20 matches. She has scored 8 times in her 4 years at Whitworth.

“What sets Mackenzie apart from the average soccer player are her technical skills,” fellow senior captain, defender Kelsey Griswold said.

Grow is well known for her foot skills. She loves the creativity that comes with being a soccer player.

“Soccer has given me a lot of patience,” Grow said.

Grow has been an example to everyone on the team both on and off the soccer field. On the field, she is known for her composure.

“She is a calming influence,” Griswold said. “She’s been a huge impact. She’s played every second since freshman year. She’s an amazing player in the center. She calms the whole game down and controls the game.”

Grow has had a tremendous influence on her teammates. Last year, Grow and her teammates faced the Lewis & Clark Pioneers at home. It was a close, hard-fought match that ended regulation in a 2-2 tie.

Grow took matters into her own hands and in a mere 52 seconds the fight was over.

“Kenz took the ball, dribbled up and scored,” Coach Hagerott said.

Grow recounted it as one of her favorite soccer memories.

Griswold says that Grow is a strong leader on and off the field.

“She’s very involved in getting people to church and carpooling and getting girls involved with team building stuff, Griswold said. “This year we’re doing a Bible study and she’s very big on getting the girls there and getting them involved.”

As captain, Grow has shown leadership skills.

“On the field, Kenz leads by example, in how she works, and in her vocal leadership, she guides people to their position,” Hagerott said. “She has a good game awareness and she’s a composed player.”

“The game can get pretty hectic sometimes and the center mids are what control the game, the speed of how it goes and where the ball goes,” Griswold said. “They distribute everything. And if you’re not calm, everyone else is very hectic, so she has that presence that calms us all down.”

“My favorite part about playing soccer is being part of a team and having team chemistry,” Grow said.

She has no immediate plans to play soccer competitively after college; however as the team competes for a conference title this season, Grow has left a legacy to be proud of.

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

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Spotted from the crow's nest: Bryan Peterson, football

A few years ago, Whitworth quarterback Bryan Peterson never pictured himself as a college football player. After a phenomenal athletic career in both football and baseball at West Valley High (Spokane), it was the latter sport that he chose to pursue. While driving home from a high school graduation rehearsal in 2008, Peterson received word that the Boston Red Sox had offered him a contract to play for them at the minor league level.

“At that point I had a baseball scholarship to play in college, but I was really excited to go to the pros,” Peterson said. “It had been my dream since I was young.”

Peterson spent the next three years as an outfielder for the Red Sox, playing in various states and countries at the AA level. In spring 2011, his gut began to tell him he would be released and he knew it was time to pursue an education. Football was not necessarily on his radar, but his passing arm was still there.

“Even the years I wasn’t playing football, I would play catch with [family and friends],” Peterson said. “I’d throw to them not really thinking I’d be playing college football.”

Peterson had a strong freshman season for the Bucs in 2011, stepping up as full-time quarterback midseason. He passed for over 1,400 yards over the season, completing 122 out of 193 passes, and earned all-Northwest Conference honorable mention.

Whitworth wide receiver Austin Ehlo credits Peterson as the reason he came to Whitworth. Ehlo and Peterson trained together before becoming Pirates and that friendship and bond has translated into dynamic chemistry on the field.

Peterson is not only a great player, but also a leader for the Bucs on and off the field.

“He’s a leader,” Ehlo said. “He’s the team leader and he’ll step up to the plate and take on whatever is in front of him. He’s always positive and he’s always happy. It doesn’t matter if we’re down. He just always has that ‘go get ‘em’ attitude.”

Peterson said it’s just his passion for the game of football and for life that inspires him.

“I want to be doing things that I enjoy doing,” Peterson said. “I’m going to attempt to be the best I can be just because I enjoy doing it.”

In the opening two games for the Bucs this season, Peterson completed 16 of 24 passes and threw for 239 yards, including two touchdowns passes.

Sena Hughes Staff Writer

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