Senior forward Whitney Sisler leads the Mustangs with eight goals this season. Ryan Sidarto – Mustang Daily

Whitney Sisler, a Cal Poly high jumper and star soccer forward, began her journey as a double athlete when her dad signed her up for the America Youth Soccer Organization when she was five years old.

Growing up in Encinitas, Calif. and playing soccer through grammar school, Sisler’s father was her biggest support and her biggest role model.

“My dad was a big deal when I was young,” Sisler said. “He spent so much time getting me to where I needed to be so I could excel at my sport … he’s just willing to do anything to help me succeed, pushing me to be better and getting me to every practice, every game, every extra clinic and taking me out for extra practice by myself.”

Sisler’s father even set up a reward system when she was younger, where he would go out and buy Sisler a Beanie Baby every time she scored a goal.

Soccer quickly became one of Sisler’s favorite sports, especially since she excelled at it at a young age.

It wasn’t until sixth grade, when she went out for the track team, that Sisler found a second sport she could apply her athleticism to. Though initially she thought she would be running the mile, Sisler found success in her ability to perform the high jump.

From that point on, Sisler would dedicate her school years to both track and soccer.

When it came time to apply to college, Cal Poly attracted Sisler because of the coaching staff and how she would be allowed to pursue her love of both sports.

“Being able to do both sports was a huge deal to me,” Sisler said. “(Women’s soccer coach Crozier) seemed like a great guy. I really liked his coaching style. He’s not a yeller and he’s patient. He’s really patient.”

But her first year of sports with Cal Poly was met with injury. Before the start of her first season with the track team, while doing the high jump, the 50-pound standard, which holds up the high jump bar, fell on her foot and broke her toe.

Her injury took her out of her first year of track. But slowly recovering since then, Sisler had only been getting better until she peaked in performance in 2010.

Assistant coach Jack Hoyt, who coaches Sisler on the high jump, said he noticed a significant difference after her first full season from returning from the injury.

“She was kind of a different athlete right at the get go of the indoor season,” Hoyt said. “She was jumping near her personal best again. She came in fitter and feeling really confident … she probably jumped an average of three inches higher than the year before.”

Hoyt also credits Sisler’s success to her competitive nature.

“A lot of jumpers will be solely focused on what bars they made and the height they made, but (Sisler) gets pretty upset if she doesn’t beat people,” he said.

Last season, one such rivalry took place between Sisler and UCSB high jumper Jane Doolittle.

“(Doolittle) beat Whitney just about every time last year, but Whitney always did her best jumps of the year against that girl,” Hoyt said. “The competitive nature for her is good.”

In the spring of 2010, Sisler cleared a collegiate and personal best in the final day of competition of the NCAA West Regional in Austin, Texas to advance to the NCAA Championships.

“It was 110 degrees outside and the competition took four hours but I was able to stick through it and jump a (personal best) at the end of it,” Sisler said.

Sisler cleared 5 feet, 11.25 inches at the West Regional, besting her previous mark of 5 feet 10.75 inches and finishing ahead of Doolittle.

But a downpour during the NCAA Track and Field Championships dampened Sisler’s chances of winning. Sisler wasn’t able to clear the first mark of 5 feet 7.75 inches on the wet field.

Sisler’s 2010 success continued into the women’s soccer season in the fall where she erupted in the first three weeks, scoring six girls in the first six games.

Sisler is still fourth in the Big West in goals scored (6), despite an ankle injury that kept her out of three games and has greatly reduced her play time.

“Right now when she gets on the field she’s always a threat,” head coach Alex Crozier said. “She’s very assertive. She’s got some pace and doesn’t hold back. So it’s all things as an opponent you look at thinking ‘uh oh.’”

Despite the ups and downs injuries have brought for Sisler, one constant remains — the support of her parents.

“If it’s a home game they’re up to watch me every single time,” Sisler said. “It makes me feel great. It’s a lot of support and it really helps.”

Sisler’s mother and father even flew out to Hawai’i to watch her play in two matches, including a win against Long Island where Sisler scored two goals to lead Cal Poly to a 2-1 win.

But playing in two NCAA sports through four years of college has left Sisler with little time to do much else.

When asked what she does in her free time, Sisler laughed.

“Sleeping and eating,” she said with a smile. “Life is hectic, very hectic.”

Sisler has valued the time she’s spent on the team and the friendships she made. Though unsure if she wants to continue a career in the high jump or soccer, Sisler is confident her experiences on the teams have given her the skills to excel after her time at Cal Poly.

“Being on both teams has given me a good work ethic, teamwork skills and being able to deal with people easier. I don’t think anything after school is going to seem as difficult.”

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