Photo: Connor McCourtney
Bo Jackson played professional football and baseball. Then Deion Sanders did the same. Now, Drake sophomore Whitney Westrum is following the same path by playing multiple sports at a highly competitive level.
Westrum spends her falls on the volleyball court and her springs bursting out of the blocks running sprints for the Bulldog track and field team.
The idea of being a multi-sport athlete is not new to Westrum, who has been competing in sports her entire life. She played basketball in addition to volleyball and track during her time at Waukee High School.
Westrum earned special mention Class 4A All-State honors following her senior season on the Waukee volleyball court. After a stellar track season, Westrum was named the 2009 Iowa Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the year.
“I never have an offseason,” Westrum said. “It feels like the same thing whether it’s the fall season in the gym or the spring season on the track. I am kind of a gym rat anyway.”
Involvement in multiple sports remained common for her when she began her collegiate career.
“I appreciate the coaches working with my schedule,” Westrum said. “I’m definitely so honored the old (volleyball) coach allowed me to be in both sports.”
Westrum finished the 2010 volleyball season with 233 kills, 67 total blocks, 232 digs and 16 assists. She was named to the nine-member MVC All-Tournament team for her performance in the Bulldog’s opening round match against Creighton.
“We want to get back to the MVC tournament and improve by winning that first game,” said Westrum about going into her junior volleyball season. “I can tell I am more explosive on the volleyball court. It helps pushing forward fast and chasing down volleyballs. The sprinting mechanics help me get to the ball that much faster.”
The volleyball team has replaced former head coach Phil McDaniel, who took the same position at South Dakota State, with Tony Sunga. It appears likely that Sunga will continue to allow Westrum to compete on the blue oval.
Westrum hopes to recover from a leg injury in time to compete at the Drake Relays. This year wouldn’t be Westrum’s first Relays appearance, as she competed in the meet four times during her high school career. She was named the 2009 Drake Relays outstanding high school girls performer after being a member of the winning relay teams in the 4-x-400-meter, which set a then-state record, and the distance medley.
“Westrum is simply a tremendous athlete,” said Natasha Brown, head coach of the track and field team.
Despite the busy schedule, Westrum said she enjoys competing and thriving in both sports.
“It is an honor to be able to do two sports,” Westrum said. “Being dedicated to doing two sports isn’t going to hurt anything. I don’t look at track as just conditioning. It does help, but I just do it because I enjoy it.”