Whether he's playing or leading cheers in the stands, the Mayfield High School senior spends a lot of time at school after the bell rings. He plays basketball, tennis, used to play baseball but focuses most on golf. He's won numerous honors and awards through his athletic pursuits. Regional golf tournaments, golf classics and most valuable player in basketball and tennis, Whitnell said he loves staying active and staying busy. It doesn't restrict him, however, from a 4.0 grade point average and a litany of other extracurriculars.
Trey Whitnell, son of Chuck and Binkie Whitnell, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees that high school guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submit to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years. In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners and will receive a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University, currently valued at up to $55,000, or a cash reward of $2,500 paid through the Paducah Sun if the student selects another college to attend.
Whitnell will pursue an education in engineering. He's not sure where he wants to study quite yet, but his top choices are Union University, Kentucky Wesleyan College and the University of Kentucky. Not only will he tackle a grueling major, Whitnell also wants to play collegiate golf. He hasn't ruled out shooting for the big time, either.
"If pro sports does happen to work out, I would be so grateful," he said. "I'm just trying to get out of high school first."
His family has been a source of support and encouragement through all of his challenges, athletic and academic. Though they are united in supporting family, the Whitnell household is one divided. His younger sister attends Graves County High School where his dad also teaches. Whitnell and his mother, a teacher at Mayfield High School, stay true in cardinal red. It's a friendly rivalry, he said.
Whitnell has watched both his grandfather and father in their business pursuits, and he's taking notes. He helps his grandfather with the real estate he owns and has also attended city council meetings with his dad, a city councilman. There's a lot to take from, Whitnell said. He'd like to become a councilman someday, he said. Community involvement is a must, and it doesn't stop after college.
Because he is the oldest child, Whitnell is the trail blazer in college and scholarship applications. It's been a wild ride, he said, and there's still work to do.
"That's the main thing, carrying my 4.0, trying to survive the last semester," he said. "Trying to finish up strong."