“Your speech at the National Adapted P.E. Conference this year was so inspirational and one of the best!” Debbie Gayaldo


Xerxes Whitney is a very unique individual. He has distinguished himself in many arenas including as an athlete, a poet, a teacher, a coach and a speaker.

Being given the name Xerxes (zurk-seez) created a huge challenge from the start, as he was born with cerebral palsy. The accompanying speech impediment meant that as a child, he couldn’t introduce himself without a mighty struggle, and he didn’t walk until he was three years old.

He has transformed these apparent weaknesses into great strengths, and he now shares with audiences ways in which they can adopt his strategies to catapult their lives to new heights.

Xerxes has self-published two books of poetry, “What’s Your Name?” in 1999 and “Busting Through, Exploring My Truth” in 2007, from which he gives poetry readings to a wide range of audiences.

He discovered he had a knack for public speaking when he was chosen to give his university graduation commencement speech in 1993. Later he was selected to speak when he attained his teaching credential from Sonoma State in 2000. Other speaking credits include the Cal Poly PEACH Conference in 2001 & 2010  Since then, Xerxes has been asked to speak for countless schools, conferences and commencements.

For 18 years, Xerxes has been teaching 6th grade Physical Education. Currently at Windsor Middle School, he was named Teacher of the Year in 2009 by the California League of Middle Schools and also Windsor Rotary Teacher of the Year.

“We were the lucky ones. We were the ones that got to sit in awe of someone so special and strong that it just left us basking in your glow.” Tiffany Belize

He started the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams at Windsor High School in 2003 and 2005 respectively. He led the girls’ team to two Sonoma County League Championships in 2010 and 2011, coached the boys to a league title in 2006, and has been named Sonoma League Coach of the Year.

Xerxes graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he was a manager, player and assistant coach on the Tennis Team from 1989 to 1994. The team finished second in  NCAA Division 111 four times during this period.

He has run five marathons. Finishing in the top 40 percent of all runners despite his handicap, his best time to date is 4 hours and 11 minutes. One marathon enabled him to raise funds for a rock climbing wall to be built at Windsor Middle School in 2003, an accomplishment that was featured on the local ABC News.