Coming On Strong
Nov. 12, 2009
By Jacob Thorpe
Heading into this season, it was easy to tell who the best players on the women's soccer team would be. Senior Veronica Perez and sophomore-sensation Kate Deines were returning all-conference players who would lead an experienced team. Well, it seems junior McKenna Waitley didn't get the memo.
Although Perez and Deines turned in fine seasons in their own right, it was Waitley who led the team in overall points, 17, and assists, 5. She and Perez tied for the lead in goals with six apiece.
It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Waitley is having her best season by far. After all, it's the first time in a long while that she's been healthy.
'I didn't really play that much as a freshman, but I was playing well by the end,' Waitley said. 'But then in the spring, I tore my MCL, so all last year I felt like I was coming back and getting into shape. I trained really hard this summer and came in with an attitude that I was going to play no matter what.'
This attitude speaks to Waitley's naturally competitive manner. Deines, her good friend, knows firsthand how competitive she can be.
'Off the field, McKenna is normally fairly laid back,' Deines noted. 'However, when it comes time to play, McKenna is all business. Although it may be hard to tell when watching since she is so calm, cool and collected, McKenna is a true competitor.'
It's no surprise that she's so competitive; she grew up in a competitive household as one of six sisters. She has four younger sisters who are quadruplets, and sometimes, Waitley needed to play the babysitter.
'I've been taking care of them pretty much my whole life,' Waitley said. 'It gets pretty crazy at my house.'
Waitley had an embarrassing moment recently when Jim Moore, commonly known to UW fans as the 'Go 2 Guy' columnist who rips on all things Huskies, named her one of 'Seattle's Sexiest Female Sports Personalities' in a column for seattlepi.com.
'Our coach sent an e-mail out to the whole team saying, `we're so proud of our little McKenna.' I'd never even heard of that, but I guess it was flattering,' Waitley said. 'The other girls on the team were making fun of me and stuff, but it was OK.'
But it's not like Waitley can't share a laugh at her own expense. She and Deines have been posting self-created music videos on YouTube, much to the amusement of their friends and families.
'Me and my friend Kate [Deines] started last year during the summer because we were bored,' Waitley said. 'No one was in the dorms.'
So they decided to create their own internet sensation. Sort of.
'I think we both wanted an excuse to take our minds off the grueling thought of double days and fitness testing,' Deines added. 'So far, we have conquered the hits of Britney Spears, TLC and Disney's Mulan. Although our music videos have provided our teammates, coaches and parents with a few good laughs, I think all of them would agree that we should stick to soccer.'
After her UW career comes to a close, that's exactly what Waitley wants to do. She'd like to play professionally in Europe, and if she keeps improving at the rate she has been, it's not out of the question.
Reach reporter Jacob Thorpe at firstname.lastname@example.org