Ryanne (Huffman) Whitaker ’19 is a hometown girl, having graduated from Central High School and playing three years at second base for the Western Oregon Softball team. She said that, during high school, she didn’t see college in her future. Yet here she is, three years later and about to earn her degree in social science. We chatted with Whitaker over the summer and got to learn a little more about her story.
Currently, you are the only member of the softball team who hails from Monmouth. How does it feel to be the only truly local girl? Do you feel any added pressure?
I enjoy it. When I was a freshman, a lot of people made fun of me for going “so far from home,” but it really is special. Seeing my friends and family in the stands during home games is something I will remember most about my career. A lot of girls only see their families when we are on the road, and luckily, I get to see mine every day if I choose.
You said you didn’t really think, while in high school, that you were college material? What made you change your mind? And what made you choose WOU?
Coach Lonny “Sarg” Sargent and my old high school coaches, Tony and Amber McLean, encouraged me. School was never my motivation, so I didn’t feel like college would be the best route for me. Before Sarg even knew me, he was already believing in me and pushing me. I knew this school and program was something special, so I gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did.
It took a village to get me to my senior year! It took my family with the constant encouragement, my teammates to keep me laughing and working hard, and some special coaches to help me understand that I belonged and deserved to be there.
Cats or dogs?
I really don’t like any animals, but if I had to choose, it would be a dog.
What role do you think being a student-athlete played in your college career?
I can’t imagine not being a student-athlete. Being an athlete put a lot of pressure on me in the classroom to be successful and get good grades. It was good pressure, which helped me get the good grades I needed.
What’s your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is about to happen: We are leaving for our honeymoon to Cancun, Mexico. It is an all-inclusive resort, and we are so excited!
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am hoping to work for the Department of Human Services Child Welfare. I worked there this summer, and it was a good job fit for me. My husband will be going to grad school so our location is still a big question mark. Once he is done with school, the goal is to be a stay-at-home mom.
You mention your husband. Tell me about your recent wedding.
It was so special and fun. We are high school sweethearts, so it was time to make it happen! We just got our first home together. He goes to Oregon State, so this is the first year where we get to live with each other and just do life together.
Softball players get to choose a short snippet of music that plays when they come up to bat. What has been your walk-up song?
Oh, man, my walk-up songs are all over the place. My freshman year it was Outta Your Mind by Lil Jon. Sophomore year I can’t even remember because we didn’t have any home games. Last year it was Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lovato. I’m still thinking about this upcoming year!
What’s the funniest thing you’ve learned about married life?
The funniest thing I have learned is that boys really don’t put down the toilet seat. Plus, there is a certain way to put toilet paper back on the roll. We made a deal that I will put on the toilet paper the “right way” if he puts down the toilet seat!
What advice would you give to students with backgrounds similar to yours about attending WOU?
Ignore what people say and do what makes you happy. I’m so happy I stayed close to home and chose WOU. My teammates and my coaches have made my college years the best ever.