Pineville rising senior Whitney Caldwell etched her signature on her letter of intent to the University on the Cumberlands on July 15th in the Pineville gymnasium, surrounded by friends and family. From a young age, Caldwell has been a staple to the Lady Lions’ program. She has led the team in scoring each of the last two seasons, averaging 16.5 points-per-game, and 17.7 points-per-game in each respective season.

Heading into her final year of high school, Caldwell feels like all of her hard work has culminated into something that many thought she’d never be able to accomplish. “It means a lot,” she said. “When I was a lot younger, people used to say that I wouldn’t be able to play in college. I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to prove that I had what it takes. I feel like all of the hard work has paid off, and I am extremely thankful.”

The coaching staff at University of the Cumberlands was the selling point for Caldwell. “As most people know, coach Evans and coach Krystal Reeves had recruited me to LMU. They were the first people to really take interest in me. They watched me as I grew into a better player. They’ve been with me for a really long time and have always been extremely supportive of what I want to do.”

Caldwell expects big things from herself, and her team in the coming year. “As I’ve gotten older, the program has grown,” she said. “More and more girls came out to play and we’ve added a lot of new things. We’re really meshing well as a team right now. One thing I love about this team is that there’s no division. Upperclassmen and underclassmen treat each other with respect and all get along very well. Everyone helps each other out. If we get to have a regular season, I feel like this could be one of the best seasons that we’ve had.”

Caldwell’s parents, Ronnie and Shannon were beaming with pride as she signed her letter of intent. “I hate seeing my little girl grow up so fast, but I can’t even explain how proud I am of her,” said Ronnie. “This is what she has been working so hard for. We are beyond proud. She is a wonderful person on and off the court. She is a great teammate. Even though I’m her dad, and it may sound biased, if I was a coach, I’d want her on my team. She is 110% team oriented. She loves the game and works hard, and that’s what has allowed her to be in this position.”

“I just thank God for all he’s done for us,” said Shannon. “He blessed Whitney with wonderful talent, and blessed us to be her parents. Being here at Pineville has been wonderful for her. The amount of support she receives from everyone is amazing. It’s not just her, they support the whole team, and it’s amazing. She has received a lot of feedback about being a positive role model, and as a parent, that’s the stuff you love to hear the most. We’ve always told her to work hard and stay humble, and we feel like she has done that.”

Both Ronnie and Shannon are elated that their daughter will be attending University of the Cumberlands for a multitude of reasons. “It’s such a good school,” said Shannon. “There are a lot of good players that are also going to be going there to play as well. Coach Reeves talks about wanting an NAIA national championship, and I think he is working toward that for sure. She is going to be close to home too,” she added. “It’s only about an hour away, so we will be able to make all of the home games. Most of the away games are fairly close too, so we are hoping to make as many of those as we can.”

“Pineville has been incredibly supportive of both her and our son Braxton, both of which have gone to school here,” said Ronnie. “Bringing them to school here was probably the best decision we’ve ever made to be honest. They have both loved it. It’s a smaller school, everyone pulls for everyone else. When you go to a school like this, you’re counted as the underdog a lot. I think that gives the kids a greater appreciation for success. A lot of times in life you’re going to be an underdog, and learning how to overcome that at a young age is invaluable.”

Caldwell expects an adjustment period to the speed of the game, but is excited to further not only her education, but her career. “I’m excited to get to work,” she said. “I still have unfinished business here at Pineville, and I hope I get to have my senior season. But, I am definitely ready to get to work at UC. There are a lot of good players that are already there and that are going to be going there. I look forward to getting to know my team and grow with them.”

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