Plymouth Prep All-star: Breck’s Derek Wiitala

Opening up our annual celebration of Plymouth’s prep elite with a Breck student’s big-time hockey goal.

Derek Wiitala is always looking to make things better—on the field, in the classroom and around the community. Even back as an eighth-grader, the Plymouth resident was looking for a greater challenge, so he opted to attend Breck School, where he’ll be a senior rocking a 3.8 grade point average this year.The secret to his success so far? “It’s all about organization and time management,” Wiitala says. “The best thing is to just know what you need to get done, then it almost does itself.That’s what’s driving him to take a leap of faith next summer and pursue a dream he’s had since he started playing hockey as a mite 12 years ago. His goal is to play one year of junior hockey and then enroll in a Division III school like St. Olaf College or the University of St. Thomas; his alternate plan is to enroll in a bigger school like the University of Minnesota, studying business or medicine.When Wiitala isn’t serving as team captain for Breck’s hockey and football teams (he also excels at lacrosse and baseball), he’s out in the community helping others; which has included volunteering with students who needed help with their math and reading skills.This cooperative mindset is part of the reason Wiitala pursued team-oriented sports. “He is a natural leader who just gravitates toward those,” Derek’s father, Wade Wiitala, says. “Derek knows that each player on his team has an individual role, one that is vital to the team’s success.”Because Wiitala is so active, he cherishes “low-key time,” playing NHL and Madden on Xbox when he can catch a break from studying and practice.