Though the competitive nature of her family helped lead to academic and athletic successes, it was clear Gerhart received the greatest amount of support from her family.
“(My younger brother) Garth is definitely like me,” she said. “We always joke around that we are the outcast kids. We went our own ways, we are independent without having another sibling at the school. All of my siblings are really hard-working, but at the same time, they are all goofballs. When we get together, it’s like a bunch of teenagers joking around.”
Whitley’s father, Todd, said at times it was difficult to manage all the “goofy kids'” practices and games, oftentimes having the kids show up at the activities a little bit less. The Gerharts resorted to naming their 15-person van, The Gerhart Gang.
Whitley, unlike her two sisters Teagan and Kelsey (her triplets) and brother Toby, decided not to attend Stanford University. The weather in San Luis Obispo coupled well with Whitley’s love for the outdoors and hiking. She said she saw Cal Poly as a school that would harness both her love of softball and desire to become a wildlife firefighter.
“I got in for school and grades,” she said. “I was a recruited walk-on. I contacted the coaches and told them I was interested because the program is great here.”
Divided between Cal Poly and UC Davis, Gerhart’s father said it ultimately came down to the atmosphere of San Luis Obispo.
“Whitley said to me, ‘This is the place,’” he said. “San Luis Obispo is the type of place that if you can get a job there, you would ultimately want to settle down at.”
When not at Cal Poly, Gerhart said she enjoys spending time with her family. Most recently, she said on Thanksgiving, when relaxing in the backyard, a spontaneous handstand competition broke out.
“Somehow we got into a competition of who could do the best handstand,” she said. “All the boys were awful. One of them totally ate it. We usually compete all the time.”
Head softball coach Jenny Condon has seen her competitiveness roll onto the field.
“She is not afraid to mix up with anybody,” Condon said. “She is one of six, and they are all phenomenal athletes, so she is not intimidated any time she steps on the field.” Adding to that, her offensive skills have recently come to match her always solid arm from center field, Condon said.
When asked about how the family likes to spend their time together, Whitley began to tell a story about a vacation in Mammoth the Gerharts had years ago.
“All of us were learning to ski,” she said. “My little brother didn’t pass the bunny hill. But somehow he came with us to the top of the mountain, probably a double black diamond. All of us got lost, and were struggling to get back to the main route. We were all so scared, but looking back it was a funny time. We were all laughing in the end because we were all really young and dumb. We all stuck together though.”
Gerhart’s strong upbringing has translated to a successful softball career at Cal Poly. Playing a consistent center-field with a .969 fielding percentage along with a .258 batting average and two home runs, Gerhart believes Cal Poly has all the tools to take the program to the next level.
“Our team has it,” she said. “We have the talent, the work ethic, we put in the time. It’s really just believing in our game. We come and compete in every game. We just need to jump on it early in games so we don’t have to fight later in games.”