With a rich family history that spans over 120 years in St. Catharines, Ontario, it should come as no surprise that Thomas Whitty has a pretty cool life outside of the rink.
Let’s start with that rink life, though, in the case that you’re not quite familiar with the Rochester Knighthawks transition player.
Whitty is in his first professional season with Rochester as one of four transition players on its current roster, all of whom are rookies in the National Lacrosse League. The 21-year-old has seen time in all 10 matchups with the Knighthawks this year and has even registered five points with his first goal coming against the Calgary Roughnecks during the franchise’s first-ever victory back on Jan. 18.
A day in the life of Whitty while rocking the black and army green is pretty standard to that of his teammates. Like most of the guys on Rochester’s roster, Whitty heads to town the day before a game to get as much sleep as possible. On a game-day, he’ll wake up and get some breakfast before his casual commute to the arena, and as shootaround comes to a close, he’ll catch team lunch at The Distillery prior to nap time because this kid loves his sleep.
Once that nap is over, it’s time to get dialed in. With some pre-game prep and a little snack back at the hotel, Whitty will slap on his scally cap and head to the rink. There’s no pre-game playlist for him, Whitty will just listen to whatever is bumping in the locker room before it’s time to hit the floor and then boom – it’s game time.
Seems pretty typical, right?
The wildest part of Whitty’s day as a professional lacrosse player would probably be the fact that he has to take his stick everywhere with him. That includes team lunch, the hotel and the list goes on and on because he just has to keep it with him at all times.
The sweetest part of his day? Putting on the scally cap that represents his grandfather who can’t make it to his games.
“I always carry my scally cap, my black cap. My grandfather always wears one and he can’t come to the games, unfortunately, so I have to rep his style for him. Definitely something I make sure I have every game-day is my black cap.”
So, after that sweet little sneak peek into Whitty’s life back in St. Catharines, let’s talk about what he does outside of the game of lacrosse and his life back home.
First and foremost, Whitty is currently in his third year at the University of Guelph, where he is studying Food and Agricultural Business while also playing lacrosse for the university. A typical week as a student consists of about 20 hours of class, hanging out with his five roommates, lifting weights and of course piles of homework. His favorite course so far has been Agricultural Food Policy and three of his roommates play lacrosse with one currently playing for the San Diego Seals in Matthew Sykes.
Now although Whitty doesn’t work while attending class back in Guelph, once those summer months come rolling around, he heads on back to Saint Constance and his family at the 13th Street Winery.
Before we dive into everything that 13th Street Winery is, let’s give you a little more background on the Whitty family. Over 120 years of rich history in St. Catharines and a family business that has been passed through four different generations. Originally the family started out as farmers, growing grapes and other fruits, and most impressively, selling some of their stock to the well-known Welch’s brand.
Fast forward to Whitty’s parents taking over and they began to get a little more creative with their brand, going from farmers to wine connoisseurs, hence the beautiful beginning of what they now call 13th Street Winery.
“Slowly as time moved on, my parents became a little more creative and they got into the wine business. So I kind of grew up working in the farm and fruit market, and then as the winery started picking up, I took on some jobs around there,” said Whitty when asked about the business that his family seems to be ingrained into.
From a young age, the Knighthawks transition man has always known how to put in the work. When he was younger, Whitty started out cutting the grass and doing little things around the family business, but as time passed on, he ventured into the farmers market, fields and eventually the back office, covering everything from pruning, tying and tucking to helping with the business’ financial accounts.
Easy to find work to do when your winery becomes a booming business and it branches into even more than just that.
Now the winery is made up of four different moving parts with a restaurant, bakery and most recently they just added an art gallery to the mix. With full lunch service throughout the weeks of the summer months, customers can’t help but stop by and grab a bite to eat while also enjoying the best buttered tart in all of Canada and taking in some newfound art.
With so many different aspects of the business continually growing, a day at the family business is ever-changing according to Whitty and he’s only gained more and more responsibility as he’s gotten older.
“My jobs are always changing. With accounting I helped manage and assist the accounts at the Winery last summer. I would do all the account receivables, account payables, inventory, daily income revenue and taxation,” said Whitty when asked what his exact job looked like just last summer.
Not only does he get to share his summer job at the Winery with his parents, Doug and Karen, but he also has two older brothers in the mix that intend to help take over when the time is right.
Luke is the oldest of the three at just 27 years old and works in marketing in the city of Ontario, while Benjamin is 25 and studying Oenology and Viticulture, otherwise known as grape science. Each brother diving into a different aspect of the business which in turn makes it even easier for them to take on the winery together when given the opportunity.
Now that we have gone through a large portion of Whitty and his everyday life, let’s narrow down exactly who he is. A professional lacrosse player, a student, a guy who knows the wine industry inside and out and much more. But none of these compare to what’s truly most important.
What he cherishes the most about his dual lifestyle is quite simple; that no matter where he goes, he feels he has a family to come home to.
From his actual family back in St. Catharines working to keep 13th Street Winery in tiptop shape, to his house full of five roommates at the University of Guelph that he works out and attends class with, to his team full of professional lacrosse players striving to get better with each and every rush.
And this is exactly what Whitty said when asked what he enjoys about his dual lifestyle the most.
“Definitely getting away and having another family. I have a family in Guelph, I have a family in Rochester, and I have a family in St. Catharines. Going back and forth between them all is truly a blessing.”
At the very least, I’d head up to 13th Street Winery sometime soon because he was not joking; the buttered tarts are way too good to pass up.