Dakota Whyte: Staying the Course
Dakota Whyte has had a basketball in her hands since the tender age of six.
As a proud Ajax, ON native, Whyte attended Notre Dame SS, home to one of Ontario’s high school powerhouse basketball programs – boasting alumni consisting of high-calibre athletes in the NCAA.
Standing at 5’8″, this versatile point guard helped to bring ND’s program to a competitive level. She has the ability to score, create opportunities for her teammates, and is reliable on the defensive end. Whyte’s rise to making a name for herself in Ontario roots from the Scarborough blues/ Lancers club program, Durham Chameleons, and the Advantage Titans.
There is a long list of GTA all-stars that both the Notre Dame and Advantage program has produced, including Shanice McKoy (Texas), Wumi Agunbiade (Duquesne), Adriana Allen (Monmouth) Mariah Nunes (Fairleigh Dickinson) Shanica Baker (Panola College), Nicole McKenzie (Keyano College), Lauren Griffith (American International College).
Whyte owed a lot to the Titans program saying, “The best moments of my club career were probably in my last year of club season. I loved the team that I was on.”
Based on previous years of success with the Advantage program, Coach Chris Smallings has built a reputation for producing a large number of high-calibre players, all who have played at the post-secondary level.
There were several options available for Whyte as she started her senior year of high school. With several OFSAA tournament appearances under her belt, OBA championships and all-star acknowledgements from the JUEL league of Ontario, the poster-child of finesse made the decision to sign with the University of Wisconsin.
“I picked Wisconsin because it is a great academic school, the atmosphere on campus is always great and fun, the campus is beautiful and so is the city,” said the second year Badgers PG.
“I wanted to play in the Big Ten Conference.”
But like any athlete, the 19-year old experienced initial friction at the high-major NCAA level.
“It was a huge transition because the basketball is so much more intense and different than Canadian basketball.”
Dakota went on to say that her freshman year was by far the biggest transition she’s experienced and still feels she is going through it.
Going into her freshman year the lead guard was thrown onto the battle field to take the role as the Badgers’ primary point guard. But over time Dakota slowly fell through the ranks and was not able to perform at the level she thought she was capable of.
Following a talk with her head coach, Dakota found herself in the supporting point guard role. And this year she has certainly learned a lot coming off the bench.
“It was definitely hard to know that I wasn’t starting anymore but I thought it was the best thing that happened to me because I was getting into a funk that I couldn’t get out of,”
Whyte told NorthPoleHoops.
“To make sure I didn’t fall too deep, my coach took me off the starting line-up and I could come off the bench feeling confident and knowing exactly what I had to do when I got out there.”
As determined and perseverant as the next aspiring basketball star in the NCAA, Whyte says that there is no room for complacency at any level of basketball.
“Every time I step on the court I have to give my all and not take my chances for granted – especially when you know you can play at this level and that you are the only person holding yourself back. It’s like fighting a bad cold, I just had to do it.”
Second year university has been, and will forever be known as, the hardest academic year in your undergraduate degree. When outlining her daily routine as a varsity-athlete, it is clear that Whyte has scarce amounts of this so-called ‘free time’, something that all varsity-athletes have no choice but to sacrifice.
This particular point guard knows all about sacrifice. Last summer, Dakota was not able to return to the Canadian Women’s Developmental National Basketball team as her head coach at Wisconsin wanted her to take the summer to mesh with the team and focus on improving her own skills. In any case, this was described as a bitter-sweet.
“My experience with Canada Basketball has been great, playing for my country is such a huge honor for me and I hope to continue to do that. It takes a lot of work to continue to play at this level. I’m usually in the gym before and after practice. It’s more about maintaining your game and striving to become even better. Anything I’m not good at I try to spend all my extra time in the gym working on. But it takes a lot of gym time to stay good.”
Sometimes, it is extremely hard for a person to transition from high school to university or college. But there are things in life, and people in particular, that help you through these times of change. From not playing well to slowly reaching her potential, Whyte has been able to make the most of her new role on the Badger’s roster.
In the 2012-2013 season, Whyte averaged 11.3 mpg, 2.4 ppg, and shot 25% from the field. She also added 31 assists and 12 steals.
This season, Whyte has shown tremendous strides as a sophomore.
In the 2013-2014 campaign, she averaged 24.2 mpg, 6.3 ppg, shooting 42% from the field, while chipping in 61 assists and 26 steals. There clearly is no easy way around development. Extra time in the gym was a piece to her success.
Whyte’s family and close friends, with her mother as the foundation, aided her through struggles.
“I have gotten a lot of support from my family. They have been here for me through every tough experience that I’ve had. My mom is probably my biggest supporter at all times. Also my teammates have gotten me though a lot over the past two years, with just being there and helping me through.”
Anyone in the GTA could tell you that Mrs. Whyte is definitely Dakota’s #1 supporter – showing up to every game.
If she had missed any games during her career before university, no one would be aware of it. Dakota counts herself extremely lucky in having such a loving and caring role model. Her mother encouraged her every minute of every game, which was shown to have a great impact on Dakota’s game.
With the combination of a strong support system, along with her perseverance, Whyte hopes to still be playing basketball in the next three years.
Whether she laces them up professionally overseas or in the WNBA, this varsity-athlete just wants to be able to play.
Whyte’s previous experiences–whether success or failure–work in her favour, as she stays the course.