It was more than a milestone when the Oilers won their first-ever Greater South Shore Conference tournament last month. It was an arrival.
"We knew that our program had arrived at the point we reached for," said coach Arthur Young. "All of the sweat ethic we put in had paid off."
The program has shown steady improvement over the last three years, but this season the team from the Little City is delivering some big hits. With a record of 8-2, 5-1 in conference, the Oilers are no longer practice fodder. They are the team being chased.
"We are a team to be reckoned with," said captain Jazmyne Henderson. "That is something we have worked very hard to achieve, and we are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished."
So far this season, the Oilers have defeated conference foes Bishop Noll, Lake Station, River Forest, Hanover Central and Wheeler.
The secret to their success?
"I credit our captains, past and present," Young said. "In sports, teams look to their captains. At our small school, we don't have a lot of kids who can afford private lessons. They have to work, sweat, work some more. They have to have attitude. When some of these girls who don't have much experience see a captain who refuses to lose, they follow that attitude."
From Allison Miller to Araceli Gomez to Megan Jakovich, now to Henderson, the coach says he has been blessed with great captain material.
"These girls are a tribute to their city," Young said. "And they have improved this program tremendously."
As part of a city improvement initiative, Whiting built new tennis courts adjacent to the new softball complex at 117th and Oliver Streets. The courts, complete with lights, were ready at the beginning of the season. The improvement matches the team.
"Next summer we can have night practices," Young said. "The girls get excited just thinking about it."
Freshman Maira Huizar has alternated between varsity and JV this season. It's her first opportunity to see how the program has progressed.
"The team chemistry is incredible," Huizar said. "The upperclassmen spend a lot of time with us younger players and help us as much as possible. Everyone goes out of their way to provide input and guidance."