By Jeffrey Rogers
For the Appeal
Who do we give our respect to these days? Do we respect the people who dominate the scene doing whatever it takes to get the job done? Or is it the quiet person in the corner who can recognize and seize opportunity when it comes knocking?
Western Nevada Community College is literally a community in itself made up of citizens learning how to capture a bit of opportunity in a bottle. The landscape of our transient campus changes when we get to sample the sports scene of a larger school. We can share many great community and campus events in the future as loyal Wildcat maniacs.
My respect goes out to a champion of dignity on the field; a man with a simple, realistic, and inspiring vision of where our new baseball team is going. D. J. Whittemore is the man chosen by WNCC to bring our school a championship attitude. I caught up with the inaugural mayor of Wildcat Ville to ask him the tough questions.
For starters, I wanted to learn what the team philosophy was going into our first season. Coach Whittemore replied, "We have a group that likes to work hard. They get along well with each other. As far as I can tell those are two good ingredients for winning ballgames."
When asked about the team's goal for the first season he replied, "We're trying to be the best we can be everyday. From there, we're going to go out and try to play every game to win; we're going to win every game we play. We don't worry about winning championships, we try to act like champions everyday."
My next goal was to learn how our community and campus could benefit from having Whittemore in his current position. When I inquired of this, he replied with this story from his amateur days in San Francisco: "When I was a junior in college, I got a phone call on a Thursday night from my dad. He said that my grandmother had a stroke that day and that she was in the hospital. He thought she was going to be OK. That afternoon at practice my coach noticed that something was wrong and that I wasn't acting as I normally acted. He asked me what was wrong and I told him about my grandma. He said, "Well what are you doing here? Get home and see your grandma. If you hop in your car right now, you'll beat the traffic across the bridge.
"I did what he said; I got in my car and drove home; I drove to the hospital. I saw my grandma, she was conscious, and I had a nice conversation with her. I went home and went to bed and she was dead the next morning when I woke up. If my baseball coach hadn't told me to do that, I would have never seen her again. That moment really let me know how much a difference a coach can make on a player's life. That moment made me want to be a coach. It's the admonitions of a resolved heart that I feel can help this team and city the most."
In the end, why should we give this coach and this team our respect? Our coach Whittemore is committed to creating good citizens through his program who respect people of all walks of life. I have good reason to believe that this will be a productive first season. Certainly I can fathom a trip to the postseason. Let's show our support and fill the new stadium come January.
n Jeffrey Rogers is a junior at Western Nevada Community College and writes once a month for the 411 section.