WCHS golfer officially inks letter of intent with Central Arkansas
Published 6:35 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017
By Ernest Bowker
The Vicksburg Post
After 10 years, countless tournaments and more than a few victories, Karley Whittington finally got to cross an accomplishment off her to-do list she’d been waiting for that whole time.
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The Warren Central golfer, who has won two high school state championships in her stellar high school career, signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play collegiately at Central Arkansas. She’s the first Warren County golfer to sign with a four-year school since St. Aloysius’ Chase Smith in 2007.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I feel like it was never going to come, and now that it’s finally here it’s crazy that I’m about to leave,” Whittington said. “It’s super exciting that I have somewhere to go after high school. Most kids don’t get the chance to actually go somewhere. I’m so excited to be there and to have a college team where everybody focuses on golf.”
Whittington, who celebrated her 18th birthday earlier this week, started playing competitive golf when she was 8 years old. It wasn’t long after that she started winning junior tournaments and emerging as one of Mississippi’s top young golfers.
Helped along by a competitive streak and coaching from her brother Chris — a four-time Warren County champion — and Clear Creek Golf Course pro Kent Smith, Whittington easily transitioned to the high school ranks.
She won the MHSAA Class III individual championship as an eighth-grader in 2014, repeated as champ the following year, and has finished as the runner-up the past two years. Around the time she started winning state titles, her mother Traci said the family started considering a college scholarship as a viable goal.
“It’s very exciting. She started at 8 years old and she’s really worked hard. She’s always wanted to play for a D-I school and she’s doing it,” Traci Whittington said. “She played a lot of local tournaments, and then a lot of Mississippi Golf tournaments. But I think in seventh grade she started maturing and winning a couple of state championships and school championships, and that’s when she decided she wanted to play golf in college.”
A few schools came calling along the way, but Central Arkansas quickly became the leader in the clubhouse — despite what Karley initially thought.
“I called them because I saw them come watch me and I told my mom I probably wasn’t going to like it. It was too far away,” Karley said. “Literally my first visit, the coach turned it all around and I fell in love with it. It’s so pretty up there. Everything is new. And there’s various cultures on the team. There’s only one American right now, and when I go it’ll be three Americans on a nine-person team. I really like that, because it’ll be cool to converse with different cultures.”
Whittington still has one more high school season and a smattering of junior tournaments to play before she steps on the course with UCA. More than just the opportunity to continue her career, she said she’s looking forward to being able to put more of a focus on her golf game with like-minded teammates.
“Here, when I go practice it’s just me out there right now. Mia (Wamsley) has choir and Sydney (Stuart) plays volleyball and they’re helping me out. I’m just so excited for it to be more than just me out there,” Whittington said. “It’ll make me have more willpower to go out there and get better, and to have people to compete against. I think I’m going to improve so much.”