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Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week: Tristan Whitfield

TRISTAN WHITFIELD
Posted at 12:08 AM, Oct 29, 2022

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR)- Playing volleyball wasn't Tristan Whitfield's idea. Ask him and he'll tell you that it was his father's suggestion when he was in ninth grade at Kellam High School.

"It was probably one of the best decisions my dad ever made," he smiled. "I did not think so at the time, but looking back on it right now I'm so glad he made me do it."

"He came in with a lot of natural athleticism and then it's just a sport he was built for," added Dolphins head coach Monica Scott. "He picked it up and just ran with it."

Now a senior, Tristan has accomplished quite a bit in his nearly four years of playing volleyball. He transferred to Cape Henry prior to his sophomore year and has led the program to back-to-back Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament titles, earning MVP in both of them. The senior says the sport gives him a sense of community.

"I meet a bunch of different people every time I go play a tournament and we stay in touch," he said. "I've built this community all over the country that i just love. I have so many friends everywhere. It's been the best."

His stardom stretches far beyond his school and the state. This past May, Tristan earned a spot on the U-19 National Team and won a gold medal at the PanAm Games.

"I go play with all these guys from across the country as we're training to make the roster and that expands it even more," the senior said of his international experience. "Then I go overseas and I'm playing with guys from all over Central and South America and it just makes you appreciate how big the game really is."

"He's winning gold at the PanAm Games, going to Princeton and everybody kind of feels like they get to be a part of it," Scott said. "It's special just to be a teammate with someone who has that sort of journey."

From the court to the classroom, Tristan showcases his talent. On top of his volleyball routine, he tackles a rigorous academic curriculum at Cape Henry and maintains a GPA of over 4.0. He plans to continue his athletic and academic career at Princeton and is awaiting acceptance. Balancing school and volleyball can be a challenge, but he finds a way to make it work.

"Just making sure I'm utilizing all my free time," Tristan said of how he handles his workload. "Any study bell opportunity I'm getting homework done, making sure I'm staying off my phone as much as possible at night because that workload can pile up."

In his short career, Tristan has earned a chance to wear a Team USA jersey and performed well enough to earn a hopeful spot at Princeton, but he doesn't plan on stopping there.

"He's already training with these USA National Teams where he's getting that exposure to hopefully eventually play with Olympic teams and that kind of thing," Scott pointed out.

"I'd love to play pro for a few years, just see what happens with Team USA and if I'm in the running for an Olympci games," Tristan said regarding his future. "I'd love to continue that way, but just kind of riding volleyball as long as it's making me happy and it's something I enjoy."

If you have a nominee for Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week, send an email to marc.davis@wtkr.com.