Hazleton, Pa. - Isaac Whitenight from Benton, Pa. joined the Hazleton Nittany Lions in the fall of 2016 and made an immediate impact on the program. He played in 17 games as a freshman and went on to help the Hazleton men's soccer program reach the Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship in back to back seasons. From his sophomore season on, Whitenight would make 47 consecutive starts, coming into his own as team leader and one of the top defenders in the conference.
The Lions would finish outside the playoff hunt in Whitenight's final two seasons of play, making his efforts even more impressive over that stretch of his career. Whitenight was named a 2nd Team PSUAC All-Conference Award winner along with the John Fritz Sportsmanship Award following the 2018 season and during his senior campaign, Isaac expanded his role even further. Whitenight stood out in the PSUAC as a defensive juggernaut and a critical component of the Lions set pieces on the offensive end. The co-captain scored a career high three goals in 2019, adding a game-winning score in the process. Isaac's performance on the field earned the senior a 1st Team selection to the PSUAC All-Conference Team as well as being named Co-Defensive Player of the Year and honors as a United States Collegiate Athletic Association All-American.
Isaac is a four-time PSUAC Academic All-Conference Team member and a two-time USCAA All-Academic Team member. Whitenight is completing his degree in Engineering with a focus on Alternative Energy this semester and looking to put that degree to good use as he pursues a career that could take him into a variety of disciplines. Isaac is very interested in working in the renewable energy industries of hydro and wind electricity as well as nuclear power but also exploring options in waste water management and ecosystem design working on recovery projects.
We caught up with Isaac earlier this week for a brief Q & A:
What has been your favorite memory while participating in athletics at your campus?
One memory that sticks with me was when I was a sophomore and we were traveling home from a trip out west. I remember hearing Moussa Diouf writhing in pain and Erin Whapham had to run to the back of the bus. She was jumping around sleeping players and avoiding everyone's legs in the aisle like something out of a spy movie. It was just a cramp.
What advice do you have for your younger teammates or recruits that are looking at coming to Penn State Hazleton?
By playing a sport your academics will improve as a result of having to manage your time. Don't be discouraged by having a large class load or being intimidated/worried about class.
How did playing soccer impact you as a person?
It taught me that there are times when you need to listen and learn, but also that there are times when you have to lead. That's something I picked up over time. Soccer also allowed me to make lots of new friends and manage my time better so I could focus better on my academics.
What is your favorite memory outside of athletics at Penn State?
That would probably be spending time in the engineering room with classmates trying to solve calculus homework. Made some good friends and it was fun to face the challenge of difficult math problems. There was a lot of arguing over who was right, but in a lot cases we just took different paths to get to the same answer.
If you could play any other sport, what would it be and why?
Curling. You don't have to be in any kind of shape to compete and it's great to watch in the Olympics.
What are you up to now during the quarantine?
I spend a lot of time working in the metal or the wood shop and I get out farming with my grandparents. I'm also getting in some runs and fishing trips close to home.
What shows are you currently binge watching? Which one is the best?
Staying up to date on the Clone Wars, plus I'm watching some older stuff like the resident evil movies and The Proud Family.
What is the best class you took while attending Penn State Hazleton?
Electrical engineering with Ken Dudek. He taught the class in a way that applied to real life and connected the dots in a way that really made sense.
Are there teammates, coaches or family members you would like to thank for having a positive impact on your playing career?
Jack Pryma for being such a good friend and teammate. I also want to thank Head Coach Mikael Stephensson for sticking with us and I wish him good luck in future seasons.