Denise Craig, the fiery volleyball coach at Truman High School who bleeds red, white and blue, was walking past the school’s activities office when she heard Eric Holm mention a Truman graduate becoming a Rhodes Scholar.

“I didn’t even know who Mr. Holm was talking about,” Craig said, “but the first person I thought of was Lindsay Whorton.”

Denise Craig, the fiery volleyball coach at Truman High School who bleeds red, white and blue, was walking past the school’s activities office when she heard Eric Holm mention a Truman graduate becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
“I didn’t even know who Mr. Holm was talking about,” Craig said, “but the first person I thought of was Lindsay Whorton.”
Craig’s instincts were correct.
Whorton, a perennial member of The Examiner’s All-Area basketball team during her playing days for the Patriots, found out this week that she was one of 32 Americans chosen as a Rhodes Scholar for 2009.
Whorton, who went on to star for the Drake University women’s basketball team, is that college’s first Rhodes Scholar recipient in 82 years.
“Everyone remembers Lindsay from playing basketball at Truman, but she played volleyball for me to get in shape for basketball,” Craig said. “I had her come back and talk to my volleyball girls, and she was amazing.
“When I talk, the girls are all talking to each other and the room can be pretty noisy. When Lindsay spoke, you could have heard a pin drop.
“What an amazing young woman.”
Holm, the Truman activities director, agreed.
“Lindsay was here before I became activities director, but I know from talking to Coach Craig and other teachers in the building that she made quite an impact when she was at Truman,” Holm said.
“This is just a special day for Lindsay, her family and Truman High School.”
For 14 years, my family lived in Country Meadows, an Independence suburb.
I don’t know how many times I’d see a solitary light shining off the Whorton’s garage, lighting up the driveway so she could practice her jump shot.
Rain, snow, cold – nothing stopped Whorton from fine-tuning her game.
“I would stay after (volleyball) practice and rebound for Lindsay so she could practice her jump shot and free throws,” Craig said with a touch of pride in her voice.
“She was a gym rat – and I mean that as a compliment. She was also a great, great student. I just feel so honored to have coached her and to know her. It would be like a dream come true to have her come back to Truman and teach. I would give up my position on the staff if it meant getting Lindsay back here.”
In typical Whorton fashion, she was eager to share her honor with her new school home.
“To be selected a Rhodes Scholar is an honor and one that I’m excited to share with the Drake community because Drake University, both athletically and academically, has been a huge part of my ability to have this opportunity,” said Whorton, who will graduate in December.
“Coach (Amy) Stephens has been a tremendous encouragement through this process and President (David) Maxwell has mentored me through the application process, which I think is unique to happen at a Division I university, to have that type of interaction with the university’s president. I truly feel this experience has been a confirmation of what a special place Drake is and how fortunate I am to be a student here.”
Whorton, who will graduate with majors in English and secondary education, has a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
She received a two-year scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. She plans to study social policy and evidence-based social intervention there.
Whorton was one of the 32 Americans chosen from 769 applicants from 207 colleges and universities. Only 80 worldwide were selected for this honor.
“It is a tremendous honor, but to those of us who have had an opportunity to be around Lindsay the last four years, it is not a complete surprise,” Drake women’s coach Amy Stephens said in a statement. “She is a talented, bright, outstanding young woman who has an incredible future ahead of her.”
Maxwell said he was proud of Whorton.
“The award acknowledges Lindsay’s intelligence, breadth and depth of knowledge, her commitment to the common good and her nationally recognized stature as a Division I athlete,” Maxwell said in a statement.
“Becoming a Rhodes Scholar is a fitting culmination to Lindsay’s undergraduate career at Drake University,” Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb added. “Excelling in the classroom with a perfect 4.0 GPA and finishing her career as an Academic All-American and Missouri Valley Conference first-team member, she demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to excellence.”
Whorton is student teaching at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, this semester. This past summer, she took a youth group from a West Des Moines church to an impoverished county in South Dakota, where they performed service work on an Indian reservation.
Last winter on the basketball court, she helped lead the Bulldogs to a 23-11 mark and their first regular season Missouri Valley Conference title since 2000-01, averaging 13.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists while earning first-team all-conference honors. Drake also won its first postseason tournament game since 2001-02 with its 65-56 home victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
She finished her career as Drake’s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 266 and played in 125 career contests, the second-best mark in school history. Her 797 career 3-point attempts are an Missouri Valley record, while her 266 made ranks third in conference history. She scored 1,564 career points, the 13th-highest total in Bulldog history.
She became just the third women’s basketball player in school history to be named a first-team Academic All-America selection when she was chosen by ESPN The Magazine. She is the only Drake player to be selected to the Academic All-Missouri Valley team three times and she was named the conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year last season.
Whorton’s selection caps an amazing year of success at Truman, where the football team advanced to the postseason for just the second time in school history, the first-ever Hall of Fame Class was announced and a gym rat proves to be the big cheese by receiving one of the highest academic accolades in the land.
Way to go Lindsay!