BETHEL — Stick around for a few minutes after the conclusion of a Telstar baseball game and one will usually see the Rebels coaching staff huddled in front of the dugout or standing around a rake on the pitcher's mound.
It's not uncommon to find senior shortstop/pitcher Danny Whitney joining coach Bob Remington and his staff in the conference. And he isn't just there to hear the coaches critique his performance. He'll have some opinions of his own.
What's more, his coaches will listen.
"I haven't had many players like him that I could talk with one-on-one as if they were a coach," Remington said. "I respect his point of view, because over time he's shown that he's got a sensible approach. It's not about him. It's all about the best thing for the team."
On or off the field, Whitney doesn't come across as a precocious teenager eager to make his thoughts known to anyone who will listen. As quiet and unassuming as he is, though, he gets his points across, whether it's through the texting dialogues he has with Remington throughout the season or just the way he carries himself on the field.
"I try to just lead by example," Whitney said. "We have other guys on the team that are more vocal. We have a good combination of seniors that really mix well with the team."
Whitney has been a vital part of the Rebels' mix since his freshman year, when he was a Mountain Valley Conference all-star at shortstop.
While some players who receive such accolades so quickly in their high school career might coast the rest of the way on talent and reputation, Whitney has spent countless hours developing his exceptional skills, even in the dead of winter. When he wasn't playing guard for Telstar's basketball team (and acting as coach Mark Thurlow's sounding board, too), he was in the Farnsworth Field House at Gould Academy, throwing and taking swings in the batting cage with teammates.
"I think it's just love of the game, and that's what drives you to be the best you can be," said Whitney, who credits his father, Rick, and Remington with fostering that love of the game.
The hard work added three or four miles an hour to his fastball this season, boosting it into the low 80s, impressive velocity considering it is coming from a 5-foot, 10-inch frame.
"Hard to believe a guy that small can throw like that, but hey, Ron Guidry, he threw pretty hard. Pedro (Martinez) wasn't that big, either," Remington said.
"I threw a lot this winter and have been throwing a lot more overall," Whitney said. "Adrenaline helps, too."
Though not apparent by his demeanor, Whitney's adrenaline level and competitive fire are unsurpassed.
Both reached all-time highs during the Rebels' season finale against Dirigo. He matched Dirigo ace Ben Holmes pitch for pitch in one of the best games of the year, dueling to a scoreless tie until the eighth inning, when the Cougars scored the game's lone run for the win.
Whitney and the 13-3 Rebels have a chance to avenge that loss when they meet the top-seeded Cougars in the Western C championship game (Tuesday, 3 p.m., St. Joseph's College).
"I think we'll definitely have a chip on our shoulder going down there," Whitney said.
After the first game against Dirigo, Whitney had another long discussion with Remington in front of the dugout. Often times after a high school pitcher suffers a tough loss, such conversations are for consolation purposes. Not this time. If anything, Whitney saw the bigger picture.
"I think in some ways games like that help a team, because it brings you together and gives you even more drive to win," said Whitney, who plans to attend Husson and play baseball next year.
"Danny works, does his best, and sometimes he isn't satisfied with the result. But he's always going to give his best and understands that it doesn't always go your way," Remington said.
If it goes Whitney's way on Tuesday, Telstar will have its first Western C title since 2000.