Whiteway carrying on a family tradition
Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
BILLERICA — Grant Whiteway III says he picked up a lacrosse stick as soon as he could walk. Billerica High lacrosse coach Craig Flynn suspects it was sooner than that.
“I think Grant learned to throw and catch before he could walk,” says Flynn.
Everybody in town knew Whiteway would be a lacrosse star. He was seen almost everywhere wearing a helmet and carrying a stick. Tagging along with his father, Grant Jr., a seminal figure on Billerica’s lacrosse scene and currently an Indians assistant coach, Grant III grew up to become an amalgamation of Billerica’s great lacrosse players who preceded him, whose records he is in the process of obliterating.
Whiteway’s father ticks of some of those names … Tim McCaffrey … Walter Cataldo … Steve Henderson … Ryan Danehy … “and it’s like Grant has taken a little piece of all these guys,” he says.
Now, in this 35th season of Billerica varsity lacrosse, Grant Whiteway III is poised to become the biggest Billerica star of them all.
He is a 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior attackman with a coach’s eye for the game and a 90-mile-per hour shot, who is already committed to suit up for UMass Amherst in 2012. He leads the state in scoring with 112 points (71 goals, 41 assists) for the 14-1 Indians. He is one point shy of the school’s single-season scoring record set by Danehy during Billerica’s 2001 state championship season.
Whiteway was a second-grader then, stationed behind a net at every Billerica
game, retrieving balls, and poking his head into team huddles. His father was an assistant coach, also under Flynn, who stepped down after Billerica’s only state championship, but returned this season.”They were just unbelievable that year,” recalls Whiteway. “I still remember them running off the field after they won the state championship at Longmeadow.”
Danehy, the star of that 2001 team, who went on to play at Dartmouth, seemed larger-than-life to Whiteway. Nine years later, little Grant Whiteway III is all grown up and set to whoosh past Danehy’s single-season school scoring record.
“I look at the (records),” admits Whiteway with a sheepish grin. “I’m trying to set goals for myself.”
When Whiteway soon breaks former teammate Greg Melaugh’s Billerica career scoring record (he needs just 10 more points), there is a chance it will be on a pass from Melaugh’s younger brother, Ben, a sophomore attackman.
“I had played with Greg my whole life,” says Whiteway about the two-time high school All-American, now playing at Merrimack College, “but Ben was also out there shooting around with us in their backyard.”
Billerica has many notable lacrosse families, but the Whiteways certainly are in the running for the title of Billerica’s First Family of Lacrosse. Whiteway’s sister Jamie-Lee was a two-time Sun Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse while at Billerica, and was Merrimack College’s starting goalie in 2009 and 2010 after transferring from UMass Amherst.
Another older sister, Brittany, is a starting defenseman at Southern New Hampshire University, and a younger sister, Lindsay, is a talented freshman on the Billerica girls’ varsity.
Then there are Grant Whiteway I and II.
Whiteway’s dad, Grant Jr. (or Grant II), was a Billerica lacrosse captain in 1983, and later the Billerica boys’ head coach for four seasons and a girls’ varsity assistant for four. He was among the founders of the town’s youth lacrosse program. He played lacrosse at UMass Lowell and is a member of the Billerica High Athletic Hall of Fame.
Whiteway’s grandfather, Grant Sr. (or Grant I), films every Billerica lacrosse game and has tirelessly served the town’s youth lacrosse program. Lacrosse arrived in Billerica well after Grant Sr. played football, basketball and baseball at Howe High School. “Whatever we needed for Billerica lacrosse, he’s done,” says his son, Grant Jr.
And, there is Grant III. “There have been some unbelievable players here at Billerica,” says Flynn, himself a former Indian and Division 1 college player at Hofstra. “But Grant is the most all-around, complete player Billerica has ever had. He’s the best player I’ve seen in the state this year.”
Whiteway’s shot recently was clocked at 90 miles per hour, so it is no wonder he broke his sister Jamie-Lee’s thumb while they practiced in their backyard last summer. “I ended up shattering it,” Whiteway says with that sheepish grin.
A Whiteway shot also hit the right calf of Billerica shut-down defenseman Jimmy Holland during the first week of practice this spring. “I couldn’t walk for a couple of days,” says Holland. “When he shoots, it’s like a bullet coming out of a gun.”
Whiteway’s father built a 20-foot-high fence behind the lacrosse net in their backyard on Lamont Street, to reduce by a few hundred balls those Grant IIII shoots into the woods. “He’s trying crazy shots all the time,” Grant II says. “He still misses.”
But 195 times already in his Billerica career, Whiteway’s frightening shot has hit the net.
More than setting records, though, Whiteway, who two years ago played as a freshman in Billerica’s 14-13 overtime loss to Duxbury in the state title game, wants to run off a field a state champion like the 2001 Indians of his childhood.
“Not only is he a highly skilled player,” says Flynn, “he’s hungry.”