Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mackenzie Whyte Steps Into Justin's World

And in part two of our double-header today, it's an almost-perfectly-timed interview article. As well as her day to step into the spotlight here on Justin's World, it also happens to be the day-after Mackenzie Whyte's birthday (thus the almost-perfect timing).

Mackenzie spent four seasons with the Boise State Broncos, serving as the starting shortstop and an occasional utility player (with starts at first base and catcher to her name during her career). Offensively, she led her squad with a .363 batting average in her final season as a Bronco. 

Mackenzie was one among several Bronco softball players who participated in a Locks of Love hair donation event during this past season (we covered that event here).

Mackenzie isn't on Twitter, and for those of you who may not pay attention to teams outside your fandom, conference, or region, perhaps this interview will give you a chance to get to know Mackenzie a bit better. Just some of the things we discussed include...

- What she'll miss most about playing softball
- How she originally chose Boise State
- Her role model
- Her future plans
- How she decided to donate her hair
- And of course, three things she'd take to an island!

How did you first get started playing softball? Was softball always "your sport"?
My older brother, Ryan, is six years older than me and he was a baseball player, so of course I wanted to be just like him.  I started playing T-ball when I was five and I haven’t stopped since.  I also played basketball and soccer growing up, but it wasn’t until my 14 & under travel ball coach told me that I could be a division 1 softball player that I really started to take it seriously and gave up those other two sports.

Now that your playing career is done, what will you miss the most?
I’m really going to miss the camaraderie of my teammates. I’ve been a part of some sort of team for basically my entire life and now I have to learn what it’s like to get through something without having nineteen other girls there to back me up.  I’m also really going to miss the competitive aspect of it.  Whether it was in an actual game, something we were doing in practice, or even if it was just a little competition we did in weights & conditioning in the morning.  I love to compete. 

Why did you choose Boise State?
The main question I would ask myself when I went to visit potential schools was “If I were to get injured and no longer be able to play, would I be happy at this school?” Boise State was the first school I visited where I was completely sure that I could be happy there no matter what happened.  On my visit, I clicked well with the girls on the team and I really enjoyed the coaching staff.  My visit was in early September, which just so happens to be one of the most amazing times to go to Boise because it’s so beautiful in the fall.

Who is your role model, or someone that you have modeled your own play after?
You know, I don't know if I really have a specific role model.  I’ve admired certain athletes for their hard work and dedication, but I’ve never wanted to be like just one.  Watching different baseball and softball players when I was growing up I came up with the idea of the perfect athlete.  Someone who is passionate and never quits, someone that can battle through adversity, someone who studies the game and has a “softball IQ” as my dad always says, and finally someone that is accountable, that can own up to and face mistakes that they may make, rather than putting the blame on others.  I learned a lot of these qualities from my 14U coach, Mark Carlson, who I mentioned earlier.  I would give most of the credit to him for making me the athlete I am today.

Did you consider playing ball after college? Is that something you would want to do, if given the opportunity?
It has crossed my mind from time to time.  However, I’ve always had big plans for my future and playing softball hasn’t really been a part of those plans after college.  I’ve always been very serious about my academics and starting my professional career once my softball career was over and that's exactly what I plan on doing now.  So to answer the question, no I don't think I would play if I had the opportunity.  A second reason being that I just don't think my body could handle it.  I’m old! I don’t know how some of those ladies in the pros continue to play into their 30’s.  

How do you plan to stay involved with the game of softball now that your collegiate playing days are done? Do you think you might coach at some level?
Well, I definitely plan on continuing to be a part of the Boise State softball community.  I’m going to attend as many games as I can in the future.  I do think that I will coach!  I was thinking that I might coach a team while I’m going to grad school just to have a release from school and stress every now and then.  I’d like to share with others the things that I learned over the many years I played the game. 

What is your favorite memory or moment from your career?
I’d have to say that my favorite moment would be the walk-off homerun I hit in the bottom of the 7th against the Lobos to win on senior day and the very last home game I would ever play in.  It’s just a good thing to be able to think back on when I’m ever feeling sad that I’m no longer playing.

Why did you decide to participate in the 'Locks of Love' hair donation event that the Broncos put on this year? Even though the point of an event like that is meant to make a difference to other people, how did participating in it make a difference in or for you?
I decided to participate in the event because it was for such a great cause.  I’ve always wanted to donate my hair and to be able to do it on my home field was just such an awesome experience.  It felt good to be able to do something for others, for someone in need.  After I donated, I felt excited to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.  I recently became friends with a girl in a few of my classes who was diagnosed with cancer, so it was kind of personal for me. 

Let's say you were given the opportunity to spend a full twenty-four hours in another person's shoes. Who would that person be and why would you want to trade places for a day?
I think if I could, I would want to live a day in the life of Jack Hanna, also known as “Jungle Jack,” because he is an expert on all animals and is the director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium so he gets to handle these amazing animals every day and take care of them.  I’ve always loved animals, which is the reason why I’ve decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.  However, unless I work as the veterinarian for a zoo I may never get the opportunity to mingle with animals like panda bears, lions, tigers, and giraffes like Jack Hanna does on a regular basis.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, but were allowed to take three things with you, what would you take? No boats, no phones.

I would probably take my best friend, Lindsey, because she can make even the worst situations fun, I would bring my cat because he is probably my favorite thing on this planet and is the source of a lot of entertainment, and finally I would take some speakers so that I could listen to music because I absolutely love music.  

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