When I first met Mr. Whitney out on the tennis courts freshmen year of high school. I was intimidated; I have never met someone like him. Foreign to the game of tennis, he made it simple and understandable. Going through my first tennis season with him, I felt like I found something I enjoyed.
Having known Xerxes for over 6 years now is an honor. His teachings taught me to be prepared, especially when your strings break and you need to borrow a racket from someone. He taught me to have patience when opportunities present themselves. He made me feel a passion for a sport. His impact on my life was a changing experience. He gave me the necessary tools to overcome life’s obstacles.
What really stuck with me was his saying, “You have to open your eyes to the possibilities.” So I did.
After high school I graduated Empire College as a Medical Assistant and was able to work in a doctors office. I also challenged myself to try out for the Santa Rosa Junior College Tennis Team, and succeeded on getting in the line up. Now my focus is on becoming a Physician Assistant.
Xerxes Whitney has opened my eyes to my potential of possibilities. He pushed me to different heights, challenge me to be strong, and help me to self motivate others and myself. Xerxes Whitney, a coach, a teacher, and a friend.
David Quezada former player
I’ve never known a person with such spirit as Xerxes Whitney. Mr. Whitney celebrates his students for each of their personalities and talents. When I was in his class, he pushed me to realize my potential and inspired me to find ways to better myself. Students of Mr. Whitney’s sixth grade class respect him as a teacher, but also admire him as a person. The story of his own life encourages all of us to never feel limited, but rather to embrace ourselves, control our attitudes, and try our best, which leads us to achieve what we dream of and hope for. Mr. Whitney’s lessons and influence transcend middle school P.E. and carry on throughout the lives of those fortunate enough to know him.
Cynthia Arata former student
Mr. Whitney’s positive personality has motivated me to persevere through the troubles and problems that I have faced. I was a sixth grade student when I first met Mr. Whitney–my physical education teacher at the time. Before each class he would haul out a portable dry-erase board and write a positive quote of the day that he would ask us to write down in our journals. To this day, I still remember many of the quotes that I had in my journal, as I use them to motivate me in the daily struggles that I may face.
My most lasting interaction with Mr. Whitney, though, has been the tennis training that I have received from him. During my junior season, my team did not win a single match. Many people would look at our record and point to our coach, blaming him for our less-than-desired season. However, that season Mr. Whitney taught me lessons that rival any lesson I have learned from any other coach, family member, high school teacher, or Ivy League professor. Mr. Whitney taught me about perseverance. He taught me that even when you are knocked down, you keep fighting; he taught me that competition is never about the conflict, its about internal growth. Unlike other people who stress the importance of perseverance, my teammates and I bought into the idea of perseverance due to Mr. Whitney since we saw him persevere each day. His physical disability did not stop him from playing a physical sport or teaching physical education. He did not let others drag him down (even though there were many who tried); instead, he stayed positive, showing me the power of positive perseverance–that no matter what happens, you need to always fight back with compassion and a smile on your face.
Peter Jeffrey former student & player
How often are we fake to ourselves and talk ourselves into doing or out of doing something because the world pulls us that way? Xerxes was born to be an example of a man who follows his own heart and searches within himself to find the fullness of life.
As my 6th grade P.E. teacher I pondered why he would take this position knowing students would make fun of him and mock his condition. Well, he was teaching us a greater lesson, to see inside ourselves who we truly are and we can only account for that. The word impossible does not exist with Xerxes, but only the words unexplainable and unfathomable come to mind as we see what he is able to accomplish. Do not tell him he cannot do anything because he can and he will. His way of life begs you to question the motivations and upper limits of where we define ours.
Chad Carpenter former student & player