(With Park View High School slated to merge with Bluestone HS to form the new Mecklenburg County HS in 2022, the Brunswick Times-Gazette and the South Hill Enterprise are running an ongoing series that looks back at some of the outstanding athletes and coaches and their stories through the years. This is story No. 6 in the series.)
Park View High School varsity football coach Tony Whittingham, Jr., said football has always been a source of passion for him.
“I played football with a passion,” he said.
Whittingham said when he stopped playing football after two years at Virginia State University, he picked up recreational basketball.
“I started playing basketball as a hobby,” he said. “But I stuck with it and I wound up being a pretty good player. The coach at VSU even came to me and talked about playing on the team.”
Whittingham said he realized then that he could take the passion that he always found in football and use it in other areas of his life. He also found out his faith was the key driving force in his life.
“I didn’t give up my desire to do my best,” he said. “You can have a passion for different things in life but without Christ, it is all for naught.”
Whittingham, who will enter his third season as the skipper of the Dragons varsity football team if the campaign is able to be held, was a standout for Park View during his playing days under Coach Dewey Windham.
The Dragons had a number of outstanding athletes during those years including Howard and Eugene Feggins, Kerry Martin, Bryan Crute, Earl Walker, Bruce Hall, Quill Jones, Gerald Baskerville, Frank Wheeler, Sonny Echols, Bruce Cliborne and John Middleton just to name a few, said Whittingham.
Martin, a quarterback for the Dragons, actually went to VSU following graduation from Park View and played with Whittingham.
Whitttingham said it was a slow start to his varsity career for the Dragons.
“We went 3-7 our first season,” Whittingham said of his sophomore campaign at Park View. “I don’t think many of us had lost a game since our Yellow Jacket days. We had went undefeated in middle school.”
The young Dragons would rally however behind its talented young roster and captured the Southside District title by going 8-2 in 1982.
Whittingham played offensive and defensive guard for Park View and saw some time in the backfield.
“We were always looking for that third back,” he said. “I gave it all I had.”
Whittingham was selected as the team’s MVP in his senior season and earned All-District and All-Region honors. He was an All-State honorable mention selection.
“In our last game, Howard (Feggins) got hurt and that injury really hurt us,” he said.
Whittingham received interest from a number of colleges including JMU, Virginia Tech, Virginia State and the University of Richmond.
“My Dad really wanted me to go to Richmond,” he said. “I just didn’t have a reference point and VSU offered a full scholarship and so I went there.”
He said Howard Feggins, who went on to play at UNC, tried to get him to transfer to Chapel Hill from VSU after his second season in Ettrick.
“I just decided to focus on my education,” he said.
Whittingham earned his degree in Public Administration and worked for the State of Virginia for 15 years before opening a business with his wife.
He took over the Park View varsity program in 2018 and is 13-8 in his first two seasons with one regional playoff appearance.