Oak Knoll Senior Katherine Whelan Earns 2021 Women in Sports Award

Oak Knoll senior athlete Katherine Whelan ’21, of Essex Fells, NJ, earned the 2021 Women in Sports Award and represented Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child on February 3, 2021 in the statewide virtual celebration of the 35th anniversary of National Girls & Women in Sport Day (NGWSD), through the Women’s Sports Foundation. The award recognized more than 250 top female high school student athletes as well as college athletes in New Jersey.

Chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1986, NGWSD is honored in all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies and activities honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports.

This year, due to the pandemic, the NGWSD especially emphasizes and recognizes the importance of staying mentally and physically healthy during challenging times.

The Oak Knoll Women in Sports Award is presented each year to a senior who exemplifies everything that makes a student athlete special, with a focus on leadership and using one’s athletic platform for the greater good.

Whelan was an offensive force and captain this fall on the OKS soccer team earning her numerous accolades, including First Team All-Watchung, Third Team All Non-Public, UCGSA All-Conference, NJGSCA Sectional Recognition Award, and NJGSCA Sectional Top Award.

“Being a student athlete at Oak Knoll has taught me a variety of lessons, but the most impactful is leadership,” said Whelan. “I have learned that leadership is not so much numbers and statistics as it is dignity and character, and Oak Knoll soccer’s most recent 2020 season is a perfect example.”

In addition to her athletic success, Whelan is an active leader on campus serving as the Campus Ministry president, member of Dancers, co-editor of the La Vista Spanish newsletter, and involved in numerous other clubs and organizations. Earlier this fall, she also helped organize and execute the Red Bandana Run with the Oak Knoll soccer team.

“Katherine is an asset to the Oak Knoll community both on and off the field,” said Oak Knoll’s Athletic Director Kelly Childs, who said she hopes younger student athletes will look up to as an example of someone who works hard to improve each year as an athlete, leader, and person.

“Not only has she been a tremendous student athlete for four years with the accolades to show for it, but she has also left her mark on the greater campus community through her involvement in numerous extracurricular activities. This year, she has stepped up to the many challenges and has led with grace, maturity, and positivity. Katherine will be greatly missed but we are so excited to watch all that she accomplishes in the years ahead!” said Childs.

Whelan said that the Women in Sport Award is an honor as it gives her the opportunity to represent Oak Knoll School, the place that has transformed her into the person she is today.

“I am so lucky to have been immersed in such a supportive and joyous environment playing sports, learning, and participating in extracurriculars since freshman year,” said Whelan.

“Dr. Childs, Mr. Kriner, Dr. Maskery, and so many other adults in our community have inspired me, as well as every student at Oak Knoll, to be the best version of themselves on the field and in the classroom. I am honored to represent not only an amazing athletic program, but an amazing school.”

Whelan added that Oak Knoll allows students opportunities to pursue all their interests.

“I have been able to spread my time at Oak Knoll between soccer, track, dance, newspaper, campus ministry, and more, which is extremely rare and very exciting,” said Whelan. “Because of these opportunities, as a senior, I now have a grasp on what I would like to pursue and the person I would like to become in the future, and therefore, this award will always be both humbling and rewarding.”