Rye senior Lilly Whaling has earned the unusual distinction of being named Rye High’s Athlete of the Month — an honor bestowed jointly by the Rye High Athletic Department and the Lions Club — twice in less than a year. In November of 2022, the Cornell-bound forward won the award for her play on the Garnets’ Varsity Field Hockey team. And now, she’s won it again for her attacking play in the opening month of the 2023 season.
Here’s what Head Coach Kelly Vegliante wrote in nominating her: “Our senior captain is a dominating force on the field. Lilly is the key to our offense and a true leader on and off the field. She keeps her teammates poised in stressful game situations and, at the same time, leads by example in creating a fast and aggressive attack strategy.”
In the month of September, Lilly scored 11 goals, including two hat tricks, in leading her extremely young team to a 6-2 record. She also assisted on four more scores. Asked to describe her goal-scoring ability, Lilly said, “I’m pretty strong, and I have an even stronger determination to put the ball in the cage.”
Lilly has been playing at the high school level since eighth grade, and she’ll play her other varsity sport, lacrosse, in the spring. Her older brother Caden, who attends the University of North Carolina, was a star in both football and lacrosse at Rye High. Her younger sister Beau, now a sophomore, plays alongside her in the Garnets’ attack.
The kids have athletics in their genes. Their mom was on the lacrosse team at the University of Virginia, and their dad played both football and lacrosse at Princeton. Carolyn and Mark Whaling started the Student Athlete Success Team (SAST) “to help student-athletes achieve their goals in a healthy and balanced manner.”
Lilly is undecided on her college major but is considering sports announcing as a future career.
Coach Vegliante summed her up this way: “She deserves to be recognized for her leadership, grit, and determination.”
The two-time Athlete of the Month smiled at the word “grit”. She acknowledged, “Yes, that probably sums me up.”
This win makes Lilly eligible to attend the Lions Club year-end luncheon honoring all the monthly winners, and to appear on the ballot for Rye’s Athlete of the Year.