coach Whiteman: Teamwork and preparation lead to success
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[March 16, 2009]
Coach Kirk Whiteman returned to Lincoln
College last July to lead the men's basketball program, proclaiming
to the press that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." As a full gym
watched Whiteman oversee an uncomfortably slow first half of the
regional final on March 10, there were probably some who wondered if
he might revise that philosophy. With a familiar air of anxious
composure, Whiteman waited with a growing unease until the game
clock read 9:01 in the first half, when his team scored its first
basket in its eventual
58-46 win over Illinois Central College.
The second half of the regional game revealed one
of the greatest strengths that the team has acquired this year --
the value of teamwork. Working within a fairly small squad, Whiteman
asserts that all of the players, but especially the five sophomores,
have learned that playing together for the good of the team is what
has propelled the group to a successful season.
As they head to the national tournament in Danville this week,
Whiteman believes that consistent preparations will continue to
bring them the most success. Sophomores Darius Adams, Bryce Davis,
Brandon Farmer, Don Gavin and Ethan Neitzel are as new to the
national competition as their freshman counterparts Cortez Augusta,
Cody Jackson, Steven Hines and Chris Ware. Assistant coaches Cory
Farmer, Ryan Cross and Brian Dunaway, however, are seasoned in
tournament competition from both playing and coaching perspectives.
According to Whiteman, the noticeably vocal assistant coaches are
invaluable to him. He describes his staff as possessing an "it"
factor that stems from their individual talent and passion for the
game, as well as connections to other programs steeped in basketball
tradition, such as the legendary Railers of Lincoln Community High
Whiteman admits that there is a big jump in responsibility as
head coach versus his tenure as longtime assistant to former Lincoln
College head coach B.J. McCullum. Having experienced basketball in a
variety of roles, including as a star high school and collegiate
player, successful assistant coach, and now in charge of the Lynx
squad, Whiteman has also absorbed athletic excellence from growing
up with a coach for a father. Both Kirk and his younger brother have
followed in their father's footsteps by playing for, coaching and
directing athletic programs at a variety of scholastic levels. When
asked what sports figure most significantly influences his approach
as an athlete and coach, Whiteman immediately responds, "My dad."
So how does one grow to be a successful coach? "Coaching is a
profession of thieves," Whiteman sheepishly admits. He stresses that
a good coach borrows the best of what he's known and leaves the
rest. He hopes that his program will always be a vehicle that his
players can use to grow as people and as athletes.
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Kirk and his wife, Angie, are no strangers to the Lincoln College
family. After a short hiatus in the private sector, why did Whiteman
return to coaching at Lincoln College? Having the opportunity to
oversee a program steeped in successful tradition is part of the
draw. The close-knit, supportive academic atmosphere that provides
valuable opportunities for his student-athletes is another benefit
of being at Lincoln College, Whiteman asserts. He indicates that the
atmosphere of Lincoln College creates a healthy expectation for
success both athletically and academically that can propel his
players to the next stage in their lives.
Whiteman is excited for the upcoming completion of the Lincoln
Center so that more of the Lincoln community can enjoy the
developing talents of current and future Lincoln College
As a person who obviously values tradition, does Whiteman expect
his own young children to follow in the family's athletic tradition?
Not unless that is their passion. Whiteman hopes that by example he
relates to his children, Kameron, Brody and Piper, "to do the best
that you can do," no matter what the activity. At nationals this
week, Angie Whiteman will undoubtedly be telling their children to
cheer their father on with that same philosophy.
[By KARIN FRANZ,