UNK Today | August 2014 - page 22

By CONNOR O’GARA
Hub Sports Writer
KEARNEY — University
of Nebraska at Kearney track
coaches Brady Bonsall and
Ross Fellows had to do a little
homework.
They had just finished up a
recruiting visit with Class D
state champ Alexa Whipple. The
Arapahoe sprinter informed the
coaches that she did some sing-
ing and told them that she had a
website. Naturally, they got to a
computer following the visit and
checked it out.
It wasn’t exactly what they
expected.
“Oh, wow. OK, this is legit,”
Bonsall said. “This isn’t just
some kid who likes to sing.”
That, she’s not. Whipple,
who will enter her sophomore
year as a sprinter at UNK, took
three summer trips to Nash-
ville to record her third studio
album. She already received
the Contemporary Country
Music CD of the Year award
from the National Traditional
Country Music Association.
Whipple has performed state-
wide at festivals, county fairs,
churches, nursing homes and
many venues in between. She
performs wherever she’s asked,
which takes up the majority of
her time away from the track.
It’s a dual life.
“It’s so funny because day
in, day out, you
wouldn’t even
know that she has
this whole other
part of her life,”
Bonsall said.
But it’s been a
major part of Whip-
ple’s life as long
as she can remember. At age
11, she was the youngest ever
to receive the Entertainer of the
Year award from the Nebraska
Country Music Foundation.
“I just always knew,” Whip-
ple said. “When I was 11 and I
started getting asked to perform
places and actually be the
entertainment, I realized how
much I enjoyed doing that.”
The first two of Whipple’s
three CDs were traditional
country. She recorded “Old-
tyme Country Sweetheart”
and “Beautiful Day” at Ware
House Productions in Omaha.
Although she flew to America’s
unofficial country music capital
for her third CD, the genre will
be more pop-rock.
Between country, pop-rock,
yodeling and
gospel, Whipple
doesn’t mind mix-
ing up her sound.
“I love it all,”
Whipple said.
“But starting
in traditional
country, I have a
lot of respect for
it because that’s where I got
going.”
While Whipple’s music career
grew in her teenage years, so
did her track career. As a senior
at Arapahoe, she won state titles
in the Class D girls 100-meter
dash, 200-meter dash and 400-
meter relay.
Those are three of the many
reasons Whipple garnered
the attention of schools such
as UNK. The only issue for
Whipple following her domi-
nant senior year of high school
was how she’d balance life as a
Division II student-athlete and
her music career.
Whipple missed only one meet
for music-related reasons, which
was to perform at her cousin’s
wedding. Bonsall admitted it
hasn’t been nearly the issue he
thought it could be. But juggling
two lives — on top of maintain-
ing her 4.0 GPA— isn’t always
as easy as she makes it look.
“It gets pretty tough some-
times,” Whipple said. “I have
to make a lot of decisions about
what’s best for where I’m at
and what I can do. You just have
to keep in mind in what your
priorities are and have a lot of
faith in God that he’ll lead me
to where I’m supposed to go.
That’s pretty much how I do it.”
Music didn’t prevent Whip-
ple from improving on the
track. As a freshman last year,
she recorded the Lopers’ best
100-meter
and 200-
meter dash
times. She
was one of
just three
freshmen
to com-
pete in the
200-meter
dash at the
Mid-Amer-
ica Inter-
collegiate
Athletic
Conference
Outdoor
Champion-
ships.
“If
anything,
she got
better in
the outdoor
season,”
Bonsall
said. “For
most
freshmen,
it just kind
of tails off
in the end
of their
freshman year but then when
they come back as sophomores,
they know what to expect in
year two. I actually saw her
getting better, which doesn’t
always happen.”
Whipple’s approach is why
Bonsall is confident it won’t be
long before she emerges as a
leader on the team. She doesn’t
have an extroverted personality.
Her music career isn’t brought
up unless Bonsall, one of the
other coaches or one of her
teammates does so. But she
will yodel upon request.
The multi-talented sophomore
doesn’t have an all-or-nothing
career path. She’s an exercise
science major and a nutrition
minor, which is something she
hopes will serve as a backup
plan if music doesn’t work out.
For now, she’ll keep running
with her music dream.
“I’ll go as far as it allows
me,” Whipple said. “I would
love for it to be my career
but, obviously, it’s a really
hard career choice to get into.
There’s not many guarantees in
the music business.”
email to:
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Leading a dual life
Sophomore Whipple juggles life as a star on stage, track
UNK
Today
:
Loper Lineup
“Oh, wow.
OK, this
is legit. This isn’t
just some kid who
likes to sing.”
Brady Bonsall
Courtesy photo
WHEN NOT RUNNING
or studying, UNK freshman Alexa Whip-
ple sings. She completed her third studio CD this summer and
has won the Contemporary Country Music CD of the Year and
performs at county fairs, festivals, churches and other venues.
“...I have
to
make a lot
of decisions
about what’s
best for where
I’m at and
what I can do.
You just have
to keep in
mind in what
your priorities
are and have
a lot of faith
in God that
he’ll lead me
to where I’m
supposed to
go...”
Alexa Whipple
Buck Mahoney, Kearney Hub
FRESHMAN ALEXA WHIPPLE
was
the University of Nebraska at Kear-
ney’s top sprinter this year, leading
the team in the 100- and 200-meter
dashes at the Mid-America Intercolle-
giate Athletics Association indoor and
outdoor championships.
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