Whitlock a two-sport standout for Warriors

By Jeff Birchfield

STAR Staff

   Most athletes dream of having the talent for one sport. Happy Valley's Cody Whitlock has been fortunate enough to excel in two.
   As a senior point guard for the Warrior basketball team, it was Whitlock who stepped up and played the part of floor general at season's end. He scored 12 points in a tough Senior Night loss to Unaka and followed it up leading HV to a win over Johnson County in his last home game.
   "I enjoyed it," said Whitlock. It was my last year and I wanted to come out and play as hard as I could. I just enjoyed playing my last year for coach (Charlie) Bayless.
   "We knew we didn't have a great season, but we wanted to come out and play hard and see what we could do there at the end. We played with a lot of heart. Things fell a little short for us, but we played with a lot of courage."
   The win against Johnson County, a team that ultimately finished second in region, was particularly sweet.
   "I loved it," recalled Whitlock. "I didn't get to play against them up there. I was hurt and I just wanted to play against them because I knew they were a high-caliber team. We pulled it off against them and we felt really good about that one."
   For a while, it looked like Cody's senior year might be cut short by a knee injury.
   "The first Hampton game at home, I don't know what it did, but it hurt," said Whitlock. "It kind of jammed it. I missed about five or six games and missed that whole tournament up at Hampton and the game up at Johnson County."
   In the end, it turned out all right as Cody was able to finish out the season and endear himself to the Warrior fans.
   "My greatest memory is playing for coach Bayless," stated Whitlock. "He and I developed a great friendship on and off the court. I love him to death. He's the funniest man that I know. He has so many great stories.
   "I will remember playing with my teammates. They were really great, especially Bobby (Morton) and Steve (Williams) the two other seniors. I enjoyed playing with them for all four years."
   The veteran Warrior coach showed mutual admiration for his star pupil.
   "He was a gutty, little ballplayer, tough as leather when he was guarding someone," said Bayless about Whitlock. "He was such a good ballhandler, the best we had at breaking the press.
   "I really enjoyed coaching Cody. He gave everything he had in practice and everything in the game. He didn't let up. I will miss him next year as he was one tough player."
   Now, Whitlock finds himself in a different role, not necessarily the leader, but still an integral part of the team as a rightfielder on the HV baseball squad.
   "We have people in the places that we need them," said Whitlock. "Right field is where I belong. I have to be the one to back up the first baseman. If I'm not there, I'm getting my hind end chewed."
   There isn't a whole lot of chewing going on as Warrior baseball coach Greg Hyder talks about Cody in the much the same light as Bayless does.
   "He's got great speed," said Hyder. "He's a good athlete and he can run. That's the biggest thing I like about him. He's a coach's dream having a lefthander who can do all the things that he can do. He's been a tremendous player for us ever since he's got here.
   "His basketball helped him because he had to step up and play point guard with a bunch of younger players. He had to be a leader for them on a young team. He can bring what he did up there and bring it down here."
   Some at Happy Valley have said baseball actually might be the best sport for the son of Tracy and Micki Whitlock. Cody is the oldest of three children, having younger sisters Chelsea and Carsen. The Whitlocks attend Sinking Creek Baptist Church and all are active in sports.
   "I like bunting," revealed Whitlock about his favorite part of the game of baseball. "I've been working on it a lot. It's not come around yet this year, but it will be there. I'm not a home run hitter, although I did hit one out last year.
   "I guess where I'm so small, I fly around the bases. I always try to give 100 percent. I usually run track after baseball season is over. They usually recruit me out there to run the relays. Everytime I see coach Verran, he's trying to get me out there running or doing something. The other day, he asked me to pole vault."
   The track team will have to wait for now, as Whitlock has some unfinished business on the diamond.
   "I really have no individual goal for me," said Whitlock. "I want the team to do the best we can. My number one goal is to beat Unicoi. We haven't beat them since I've been in high school and we're ready for them this year. We want to go as far as possible. We want to win the conference and we want to get out of the district tournament."