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Sept 16, 2014

Catching up with two of CSU’s former top athletes

By Jordan Smith

In conjunction with the university’s 50th anniversary celebration, The Cleveland Stater tracked down some of Cleveland State University’s most noteworthy athletes. Cleveland State softball legend Tenille Whiteside was inducted into the athletics Hall of Fame here in 2008. Whiteside is the career leader in putouts and batting average. During her freshman year, back in 1994 she posted 48 runs batted in — which is the most in Viking history. Her most coveted accolade isn’t covered in the stat sheet if you ask her though.

“Senior year playing in our conference championship after winning that, celebrating listening to Queen’s ‘We Are Champions’ was probably my most favorite moment on the softball diamond,” Whiteside said referring to the 1997 season.

Whiteside has been able to come back to visit her alma mater a couple of times since her playing days ended at Cleveland State.

After driving by this past winter, she said the campus looks completely different than the last time she was here in 2008 for her induction into the Hall of Fame. She also expressed how much she would love to make it back up for a softball game at Cleveland State.

After she graduated, Whiteside went on to play one season with the Carolina Diamonds of the National Pro Fastpitch league. That was her last season on the field. After that she started working for her dads manufacturing company in Delaware, Ohio. She still involves herself with the game by helping high school athletes get exposure to the recruiting process. Through the website she co-founded, TheQSport.com, she helped organize a showcase tournament in South Carolina. The travels do not stop there.

Every year they take 160 people to Europe to play in a tournament against European national teams. Aside from that, she now has four children who are all involved in sports. Her oldest daughter, 11, plays basketball, her eight-year-old plays flag football and her six-year-old plays on a travel soccer team. The youngest, a four-year-old girl, plays soccer, as well.

“With four kids I want to be more of an active mother,” Whiteside said, That is why she scaled down to part time at her job. “Seems like I should have more time but I don’t,” she said.

After mentioning the 50th Anniversary celebrations that will be take place over the year, she said she is finally at a place where they can take the time to come up, and with her new work schedule she plans on doing that soon. She did have a piece of solid advice to offer to the current athletes at Cleveland State — “Work as hard as you can now, enjoy every minute of it because you never know when your time is going to be done playing sports at this competitive level. I had a great time while it lasted and I will never forget my time at Cleveland State.”

Former Cleveland State tennis player, Phil Orno, shared a similar sentiment.

Phil Orno“Make the most of your sport and your education,” Orno said. “You never know where it might lead you but if you do everything halfhearted it won’t be as satisfying when you look back at your time in college.”

While the athletic careers of many of our former athletes are in the rearview mirror, things seem to be just the opposite for Orno. Once his Cleveland State days were over, he relocated to his native Denmark where he currently resides. After enrolling in more classes at Copenhagen University he decided to coach for a bit. Having saved up more money to travel, he now says he’s headed back on the Futures tour. He toured briefly following his college days and achieved a career high of 1060. Amongst the touring he has been able to make it back to his Alma Mater since his playing days ended.

“I was actually on campus a few years back, but it didn’t feel like my school anymore” he says. “Someone else had taken the college feeling and run with it”, Orco describes.
He also mentioned that it was nice seeing his former coach, Brian Etzkin.

When it comes to his relationship with his former CSU Tennis Teammates he says, “I keep in contact with some of my former teammates. Especially the Europeans and Ryan Hamning.”

When he’s done with this stint of touring, he says he’ll probably go into some kind of coaching.

“I’m thinking of studying psychotherapy and combining that with my experience in coaching to work with athletes” he shares.

Before the interview ended, it was only appropriate that we got Phil’s thoughts on the U.S Open Final that Federer and Djokavic were recently eliminated from. Orno says, “I honestly thought we would see a US Open final with Federer and Djokovic but maybe it’s finally time for a regime change. We’ll see.”