By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Throughout the course of the Whittier Christian girls volleyball season, there has been one person that has both made the offense click and helped keep the team upbeat at all times.
That person is junior setter Jennifer Washle and her skill level, work ethic and positive attitude have been major factors in helping Whittier Christian’s girls volleyball team realize a goal by winning a CIF Championship last Saturday.
“I always like to see people who have positive energy and I think the team responds when they see me smiling,” Jennifer said. “Whenever we get a point, I just scream and jump and do whatever I can to bring the team morale up and I think it does give them energy, but I’m just always smiling.”
Though she’s been consistent all season long, Jennifer was a major key in the Lady Heralds comeback win over Chadwick in the championship match with 40 assists, 18 digs, five kills, five aces and even one block assist.
The 40 assists was actually her fourth highest total in a match this season, while the 18 digs set a new season high for Jennifer, who is near the end of her first year on the varsity squad.
“I think it’s been a learning experience for her,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “She continually comes in and progresses almost every practice, so it’s really neat to watch her wanting to work hard and get better. I think it came to fruition on Saturday.”
While Jennifer admits that stepping into the role was a bit challenging at first, she said that her relationships and familiarity with her teammates helped her become more comfortable.
“I think Coach helped with my confidence a lot, because I knew he believed in me from the beginning,” Jennifer said. “I knew my team believed in me and it was nice to hear their words of encouragement, they helped build me up and that has brought my confidence level higher than I thought it could be.”
It didn’t take long for the junior to start racking up assists, as she’s averaged more than 10 assists per set throughout the season.
However, even with the chemistry that she and her teammates share, Jennifer admitted that she was still a little nervous before the Division 2A championship match.
“I was pretty nervous because it was my first time even going to CIF,” she said. “It was a whole new experience. The past couple years I had watched with the audience, but now I’m playing on the court. It was a lot of adrenaline, but it was so much fun.”
That nervousness may have been a factor for the entire team early on, but it didn’t take long for Jennifer and the Lady Heralds to overcome those nerves and take the title.
Though the numbers show a successful season, Hunter agrees that the biggest impact that Jennifer has made on this year’s team is the positive attitude that she maintains throughout each match.
“She’s meant a lot, the biggest thing she brings to the table is her work ethic and her happy energy,” Hunter said. “She does both things well and it makes it easy for the girls around her. I think that’s a big reason for her success.”
That positivity also shines through singing, as Jennifer is a member of the choir. She also enjoys reading mystery novels when she has free time.
“I love to sing,” Jennifer said. “Singing the National Anthem at the championship match with my friend was a lot of fun.”
In school, Jennifer says she likes to learn about the past, which is a main reason why she enjoys history. She also enjoys Bible class as it is a tool to strengthen her relationship with God.
However, Jennifer doesn’t just excel in those two courses. As a junior, she has a 4.3 grade point average and is currently taking AP literature, history and honors mathematics.
But perhaps the biggest source that fuels her positive attitude comes from home, as Jennifer referred to her mother and little sister as two of her biggest role models.
“My mom inspires me to be the best I can be every day, she encourages me,” Jennifer said. “My little sister, even though she’s younger than me, she never stops encouraging me and she makes me want to become a better person.”
And while she gets a lot of encouragement from home, she hands out even more with her teammates on the court. All it takes is a smile.