By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Linemen too have big dreams of playing at the next level.
Football has been a big-part in West Salem’s Holden Whipple’s life. As a little kid, he would play football with his dad. Little plastic football on and everything.
Whipple grew up on West Salem games and now being a three-year starter on the line, the Judgement Day arrived where he was going to take his talents. Mixed in the ups-and-downs of an sprained MCL his Junior Year, to say it was a long time coming is an understatement.
“Obviously football is a huge part of who I am and so with it being taken this fall, it opens your eyes with everything but especially football,” starts Whipple. “Knowing that it ends at some point just makes you want to take advantage of ever last second you have playing and being a part of the game and the game means everything to me.
“I’ve grown up on West Salem football games, and getting to finally be there experience it and now have this be that final chapter, getting to be that leader up front means so much to me! Being a three-year starter up front and seeing it all on the field, competing against state champion teams, this is our year to make noise in the Salem area and we are confident in that and beyond ready to prove it!”
They say that an offensive lineman is the backbone of the offense. They are the reason why the offense clicks and goes, causing headaches for defensive lineman and linebackers on the regular and aren’t afraid of being aggressive and physical in the process.
A second-team offensive lineman his sophomore year for a Titans team that went 6-5 overall and 3-1 in the 6A-SD6 Special District 6 conference that year before missing seven weeks his Junior season due to injury put a damper on showing why he was one of the best offensive linemen in the conference and in the State. Going up those tough challenges in those like Lake Oswego in the process entering his Senior year are just lessons on adversity, to shape him for what is ahead for Whipple at Northern Arizona University.
“I think those losses were bigger than some of our biggest wins these past two seasons. Feeling the heart break, and then seeing them in the chip back to back years goes to show, we are right on the cusp of being that team,” said Whipple. “I definitely think it has shaped us and has prepared me especially for the adversity of things. I think I can take a lesson from every single game played throughout my career!”
The decision to join the Division-1 FCS Lumberjacks has been the biggest decision of the young Whipple’s life, getting the opportunity to join Head Coach Chris Ball’s squad and playing for his staff is huge. It’s clique but the fit was right, but it’s beyond that as he looks to close the first big chapter with West Salem before joining Ball’s staff when that day comes.
Granted we’re months away from even the possibility of a down played in Oregon, Whipple is still preparing as if Week One is days away.
“Coach Ball and Coach Stanley go way back, Coach Stanley played for Ball and then they coached together. It was just right, the fit and the care those coaches have in me and all the effort and time they have put into me already! From a standpoint of staying ready and prepared for the next level is definitely going to be a huge piece for me,” said Whipple.
“Getting the body to the best it’s ever been is a huge piece of that. Training with Aaron Hague at Resilient Human Performance is huge been trimming up and building my body up. We are hopeful to get that last playing experience as seniors with my brothers but the biggest piece is to make every opportunity to play and compete with one another count!”