When they started high school, Nate Roese, Kristina White and Mary Turitto were young up-and-comers with high hopes. Now, as they finish high school, the three standout student-athletes have set the bar high for the next group.
White: Older Royals showed the way
Kristina White certainly made the most of her time at Woodbury High School. Next year, she'll try to do the same in college.
Most well-known for her basketball skills, White earned a total of 10 varsity athletic letters with the Royals - four in basketball, four in soccer and one in football - and was named Woodbury's Athena Award winner. Next year, White will continue her basketball career at the University of Vermont on a Division I scholarship.
"It's cliché, but time has flown by so fast," White said. "Looking back at the past four years seems like it's been no time at all. I've really enjoyed my time at Woodbury High School and have had a lot of fun with everything I've done. I'll always be proud to be a Royal."
On the basketball court, White was all-conference three times, all-state honorable mention once and all-conference honorable mention once. She finished third on the all-time leading scorer list at Woodbury with 1,595 total points. On the soccer field, she was a three-year starter, a team captain, earned all-conference once and all-conference honorable mention once. In 2012, she scored the game-winning goal over Mahtomedi in the section championship soccer game to send the Royals to the state tournament and, as a freshman, she was part of the Royals team ranked No. 1 in the nation. Also, this past fall, White was one of three girls to kick for the Woodbury football team - becoming the first females to do so in school history.
White credits her success, in part, to older girls that showed her the way - Woodbury grads like Kassey Kallman, Michelle Young and Mary Kroening.
"They definitely rubbed off on me," White said. "I knew as a freshman, they didn't have to talk to me or be my friends, but they made the effort. It made me feel good and I was always excited to go to practice. They made me feel like I belonged."
White said she hoped she did the same for younger girls at Woodbury High School and said her favorite piece of advice is to try new things.
"Going into high school you don't always know what you want to do, so you should experiment - try different sports and clubs and find things you're interested in," White said. "Then, when you find things you love, stick with it and give it your all."
Roese: He found niche on the track
As a kid, Nate Roese never thought he'd be a Division I track athlete, but the world works in mysterious ways.
Growing up, Roese dreamt of being a major league baseball player or a professional basketball player. However, he's certainly found his niche on the track.
Roese is one of just four individuals to win state championships out of East Ridge High School. Last spring, Roese won the state title in the 400-meter dash and is currently trying for a second. Next year, Roese will compete for the Golden Gophers men's track team at the University of Minnesota.
"I never thought I'd be running Division I college track at the University of Minnesota," Roese said. "I always imagined I'd play baseball or basketball or something. I still love basketball, but track just got hold of me."
Roese said he's sad about high school coming to an end, but he is also looking forward to the future.
"High School has been such a great experience," Roese said. "I'm so happy about it, because I met a lot of new people and did a lot of great things. I'm going to miss it, but I'm happy I'm carrying on my track career in college."
At East Ridge, Roese is a 12-time letter-winner in basketball, cross country and track and field, and was named as the school's Apollo Award winner. On the track, Roese is a team captain, a two-time all-conference recipient, and earned all-state twice in the 400-meter dash and once in the 200-meter run. Roese holds the school records in the 200, 400, 800 and as part of the Raptors' 1600-meter relay team. On the cross country course, Roese is a four-time all-conference recipient and earned all-state this past fall. He was a team captain and four-time MVP. Roese holds the school record in the 5-kilometer run, and finished 19th in the 2012 Heartland Regional Meet.
Roese credited much of his success to his track coach at East Ridge, Shannon Rainey.
"He's been the best coach ever," Roese said.
Roese said his advice to young student athletes is to find a balance between bearing down and enjoying themselves.
"Keep working hard, but always make sure you have fun," Roese said. "If you don't have fun, you're not going to work as hard. It's important to work hard and keep at it. You're going to get knocked down from time to time, but if you work hard and stick to it things will work out in the end."
Turitto: Park's two-sport star
It's not easy to star in two sports, but Park's Mary Turitto has done just that.
Over the past five years, Turitto has excelled in hockey and softball for the Wolfpack and certainly has led each team as a senior.
Turitto said it has been "an honor" to play for Park.
"I have a lot of pride in Park," Turitto said. "I've played since my eighth-grade year and always looked up to the older girls on the teams. Now, being one of the older girls that they younger girls look up to is a big difference. It's meant a lot to be able to put on the jersey and represent the school."
On the softball field, Turitto was named all-conference three times, earned all-state honorable mention as a sophomore and was second-team all-state as a junior. Last spring, Turitto led the Wolfpack in home runs and RBIs. On the ice, Turitto was an all-conference forward and the leading scorer for the Wolfpack the past two seasons.
Turitto credits hard work for her success.
"Everyone is given the same opportunity," she said. "It's what they do with that opportunity, at practice and in school, that determines how good they'll be. Just the extra ounce of work can make the difference. It's the small things that help you succeed."
This past spring, Turitto made the decision to end her competitive hockey career in order to play college softball and signed with Winona State University, where she plans on studying nursing.
Turitto said she has played hockey since the fourth grade and that it will be missed.
"It is really weird. It didn't hit me until the last game of the season," she said. "I plan on skating when I can, but it'll definitely be a big change."
Despite hanging up her skates, Turitto said she is looking forward to the challenge of playing college softball.
"I'm really excited," she said. "I can't wait to get started, to bring my game to the next level and to meet new people. I want to show the skills I have now from putting in the hard work in the game that I love."