By Tim Chambers
“You couldn’t ask for a better kid anywhere to be on your team,” said Johnson County’s head baseball coach Pete Pavusek about senior pitcher Andrew Whitaker. “He’s the type of kid that you love to coach and have around. There is not a finer young man anywhere around than Andrew.”
But, the road to a spot on Johnson County’s baseball team was no easy street for Andrew.
“I’ve lived in eight or nine homes since I came here from Washington County,” said Andrew. “I’ve been with Pastor David and Karen Hankal for the past year.” I’m definitely blessed having them watch over me and giving me a place to live. I look up to Mr. Hankal. I feel right at home.”
David Hankal, Andrew’s guardian was an outstanding pitcher for Daniel Boone back in the late 70’s. Pavusek said that Andrew had made major strides to get better and they were going to find a place on the team where he could succeed.
“He wanted it and we wanted it for Andrew,” said Coach Pavusek. “He stayed with us for a while. You couldn’t ask for a better kid. Anyone should be proud to have Andrew as their son.”
Andrew has been a member of the baseball team for four seasons. He began playing at the young age of four in Limestone before coming to Johnson County.He was a pitcher and shortstop but where he played at on the field didn’t matter.
“I didn’t care where they put me at as long as I got to play and was with my teammates and coaches,” said Andrew. “I just wanted to help my team by getting better. I wanted to contribute.”
Like the other seniors have said Whittaker said they way it ended was hard.
“I felt like we were going to have a good season but we lost our first two but played much better in the second game. It seemed that everything was starting to click. I have loved all the time that I’ve got to spent with Petie Pavusek and Coach Pete. ”They were extra good to me and did things that helped me in life that so many others don’t see.”
Andrew was also involved in the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in high school.
“I loved being involved in it at the church and getting things ready for meetings.” “It’s a very special organization.”
Andrew said that Coach Pete had been like a father figure to him.
“He and Mrs. Michelle Walters and Joy Icenhour have helped me in so many ways at the school,” added Andrew. I would be having a tough day and go see Mrs. Walters and she would tell me that everything was going to be ok Andrew. I am praying for you. You’ve got this Andrew. Joy has helped me a lot at church.”
Andrew is involved at his church Roan Creek Baptist and offered up praise for the family that is now his.
“David has taught me how to become a man and he helps me understand a lot of things like who has the best interest in life for me. He and Karen are definitely role models.”
Andrew said almost every day he wanted to give up but that so many people in Johnson County was there to pick him up.
“There were people around always that were trying to lift up my spirits.” said Whitaker. “I’ve learned you can’t look down at yourself because if you do you can’t help others. I now try to keep my head up because they are someone there for you.”
Whitaker hopes that people will remember this about him.
“I always gave 100 percent in everything that I did and I always wanted to make someone else happy.” “I want them to know that I love them no matter what.”
Andrew said that despite being in seven or eight homes in as many years that one thing is certain.
“Johnson County will always be home.” said Whittaker. “It will always have a special place in my heart.”
Spoken like a true MVP. (Most Valuable Player).