Reece Whitley SportsKids of 2015!
Reece Whitley, a Penn Charter sophomore and a breaststroke sensation, is the Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year!
First Lady Michelle Obama announced the news on Twitter at 8:28 this morning in a tweet congratulating Reece on his selection. “We are so proud of you!” she said.
Within minutes, Reece made his first appearance on national television on ABC’s Good Morning America. Introduced as the “next big thing in breaststroke,” he looked handsome and calm on live television as he told how he got his start in swimming.
He failed the deep-water swimming test in summer camp when he was 7 years old, he recounted. “I told my mom that night, and she enrolled me in lessons, and this is what happened.”
Now 15 years old, Reece is a swimming sensation with hopes of competing in the Olympics, perhaps in 2016 in Rio de Janiero. He knows the times he needs to beat to qualify – and he has them on the wall in his bedroom.
Asked to name adults he admires, Reece named his parents, Karl Whitley and Kim Smith-Whitley. “My parents are my largest mentors,” said Reece. “There’s no swimmer who can do what my parents do for me.”
Mark Bechtel, managing editor of Sports Illustrated Kids, said the magazine contest looks “for kids who excel on the field and off of it, or in Reece’s case, in the pool or out.” Reece excels in school and finds time to mentor young kids who want to be like him. He has “youthful exuberance and joy,” said Bechtel. “He just comes off as a big kid.”
Penn Charter students have the day off today, a faculty in-service day, and many of them were probably asleep when the news broke. But the adults were delighted and proud.
“Since his arrival at Penn Charter in kindergarten, we knew Reece was special,” said Head of School Darryl J. Ford. “As he has grown up at our school, he has not only established himself as a great student and athlete but also as a great member of our community. We are so very proud that Reece was selected to be on the cover of SI Kids.”
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