As a toddler, Lindsay Whiteway often ventured out into her family’s Billerica backyard with her father, Grant Whiteway II, and her three older siblings, Jamie-Lee, Brittany, and Grant III, , the elders all with sticks in hand.
It was her introduction to lacrosse.
She watched her father and brother play catch, carefully eyeing how to throw and receive a quick pass. She soaked it all in.
“We all had a stick in our hands from an early age and we were always in the backyard shooting at the net,” said the 16-year-old Whiteway, who is putting together a stellar season for Billerica High, racking up 64 goals and 19 assists through 16 games.
A Billerica High grad, Grant Whiteway II played at University of Massachusetts Lowell, then returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach with the girls’ program, and later co-head coach. He helped found the youth program in town and currently serves as its president.
“So whether we were in the backyard, at one of his games or at a camp, we always had our sticks with us,” she said.
Lindsay had little say in choosing a sport; she just followed in the footsteps of her siblings.
Jamie-Lee Whiteway, an assistant with the women’s program at Endicott College in Beverly, starred in goal at Billerica High and then at Merrimack College from 2005 to 2009.
Brittany Whiteway, who excelled as a defender at Billerica High and then Southern New Hampshire University between 2007 and 2011, is a first-year assistant for the high school squad.
And Grant Whiteway III, who led the nation in scoring (118 goals, 182 points) as a senior last spring for the Indians, just completed his freshman season for a UMass-Amherst men’s program, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation for part of the season.
When she was in middle school, Lindsay would receive an early dismissal to watch her brother play in high school. She missed just two of his games in his first season with the Minutemen.
“Lindsay and I were always out in the backyard shooting and when I got to high school, she would work on her shot with me, and I definitely see a lot of similarities in the ways we are around the net offensively,” said Grant Jr.
Brittany Whiteway remembers those competitive backyard days as a small game-scenario setting.
“We all played different positions so we challenged one another and helped one another out,” she said. “We have buckets that hold about 200 balls and we would shoot on our older sister and empty two buckets a day.”
That dedication has paid off.
Billerica High coach Ashley Martell said the 5-foot-2 Lindsay, who has netted six-plus goals in four games this season, “has incredible hands and a really quick shot.
“She has great composure when she has the ball, doesn’t panic, and you can tell that she’s been taught well,” added the third-year coach, who played with Brittany Whiteway in high school.
Her poise and stellar play has been essential on a young Billerica squad (6-10) featuring five freshmen in a starting lineup that has rallied after a 1-6 start.
“We had a slow start but we improved a lot from the beginning of the season,” said Martel. “Everyone is working together now and we’re clicking much better too. If we didn’t start off so slow, we would be in the tournament.”
The youngest Whiteway has certainly taken note of her siblings’ work ethic and ability to succeed at such a high level, piling up 116 goals and 42 assists the last two seasons.
“Lindsay really looks up to Grant and they have the same style of play,” said Brittany Whiteway.
Lindsay says that her brother would teach her “where to shoot and when to shoot around the net.
“He’s been teaching me how to do the question mark where you run up with the left hand and switch to the right and shoot, and that has been my go-to move,” she added.
And as the summer fast approaches, she will be out in her backyard every day with her siblings, working on shots and passes, striving to keep getting better.
“My dad always says to give it your all whether it be in games, practices, or in the backyard, because that is how you get better.”
Young Peabody team
In his first season as varsity boys’ coach at Peabody after 12 season as an assistant,
Anthony O’Donnell has guided the Tanners to a 7-9 record through 16 games.
“We’re a very young team, but the learning curve that we experienced in the beginning of this season will only help us next year with confidence and chemistry,” said O’Donnell. “We win as one and we lose as one and the kids have really bought into that, and it will benefit the program down the road.”
With 17 sophomores and five freshman, the upperclassmen are outnumbered on the team, yet two juniors have distinguished themselves.
Stepbrothers Kiefer Heckman and Nick Ouellette have tallied a combined 131 points through 16 games and with their dominance on the field, O’Donnell likes the direction his squad is heading.
“We will certainly have a more experienced, more skilled squad to really contribute,” said O’Donnell.
“We have gone to three or four college games, we have team breakfasts on Sundays after practice and try to build chemistry as much as possible and that will really help them come together when it matters down the stretch,” he said.