Scholar athlete: Academic investing paying off for Cathedral lineman’s family

Published 12:01 am Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cathedral School’s Silas Whitacker, center, stands with his parents Dick and Cheryl, who support him in school and while playing sports. Silas is a sophomore left guard for the Greenwave. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Dick and Cheryl Whitaker moved from Woodville to Natchez to make an academic investment in their son Silas.

Cathedral School was the choice for the Whitaker family, and the results show a good return on their investment. Silas currently has between a 4.1 and 4.2 grade point average and recently scored a 26 on the ACT.

The Cathedral sophomore also starts at left guard for the football team, and as much as he loves football, Silas said his parents have instilled in him that grades come first.

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“They’ve always told me education is very important and have always encouraged me in academics,” Silas said.

Dick said Cathedral’s academic reputation is a result of how well coordinated the school is, which is why he’s glad Silas is a part of the Green Wave family.

“The teachers get together each week and coordinate everything,” Dick said.

Cheryl said that helps put her and her husband at ease.

“It’s nice not having to worry about it,” Cheryl said.

And without parental support, Silas said he would not have done as well as he has so far in his high school career.

“They’ve been on me at an early age,” Silas said. “They always encourage me. My family is very important — I couldn’t have done as well in life without them. I’d be lazy and not do my work, but they always encourage me and make me do it.”

Despite his son’s evaluation, Dick said Silas is self-motivated when it comes to his schoolwork.

“He does his own work by himself,” Dick said. “We just have to make sure it’s done, but he’s pretty good about that.”

Dick also says he’s glad Silas has found a school that allows him to excel academically while getting to enjoy athletics.

“We moved here because of the academics at Cathedral, and the football has been a plus,” Dick said. “Silas loves math and science. He’s kind of naturally gifted in those areas.”

Cheryl said it’s also nice to have role models like head coach Ron Rushing and athletic director Craig Beesley coaching him — both on the field and in the classroom.

“It helps that Coach Ron and Coach Beesley both team math,” Cheryl joked.

Silas said he’s particularly proud of the 26 ACT score, though he plans to take the test again this month and try to score even higher.

“I was really nervous when I first took it,” Silas said. “I knew I’d do pretty good, but I was still nervous. When I got the results, I couldn’t believe it at first. After that, I was really excited.”

Silas said he’s been playing offensive line since the eighth grade, and he likes how vital the linemen are to making a play work.

“Each position is important, but the offensive line is very important for the success of the team,” Silas said. “If you’re not there, the play is not going to work.”

But Dick said it isn’t easy to keep an eye on his son when he’s playing.

“It’s a little difficult watching an offensive lineman,” Dick said. “It’s much easier to watch the football.”

And Cheryl said she’s not even watching the play at all, but worrying about the health of her son.

“I don’t see much of the game because I’m making sure he doesn’t get hurt, but I love coming to watch him play,” she said.

Silas said he’s leaning toward going to Mississippi State, but is still open as far as his college choice is concerned. He also said he’s hoping to go into the medical field.