JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (February 13, 2006) - When Lady Buc junior Brooke Wilhoit steps on the basketball court, she's always sure of one thing; her parents, Shane and Ellen Wilhoit, will be in the stands, cheering her on.
The Wilhoits, from nearby Sevierville, Tenn., have quite a streak going, attending all but two games in their daughter's collegiate career. And that's not just home games, whether the Lady Bucs are at home or away, one thing is for sure - the Wilhoits are guaranteed to be behind the ETSU bench.
"They're amazing, I can't even describe the feeling of knowing that every game, I can look up at the stands and know they're going to be there, no matter where we are," said the younger Wilhoit. "If it's a 14 hour drive - they're going to be there. They're just awesome. It's comforting. It makes it easier to get out there and play when I know they'll be there to support me."
In fact, coming the Memorial Center to see their daughter play wasn't the couple's first trip to Johnson City, they are both ETSU graduates.
"Once they (ETSU) started recruiting me, it was pretty neat because both my parents graduated from here," said Brooke. "And it was nice that it was so close to home."
When Brooke finally made her decision to become a Lady Buc, her parents couldn't have been more excited.
"We were really pleased when they (ETSU) started recruiting Brooke because we love ETSU," said Shane. "She had a few other options, and we actually thought she was going to take one of those, but all of a sudden she said ‘ETSU is the place for me.' So we were thrilled."
"We're originally from Greenville (Tenn.)," explained Ellen. "So she's 20 minutes from both of our families. That makes it nice."
"Distance was a big part," said Brooke on her decision to come to ETSU. "And I really wanted to play Division I basketball. It's always been my dream."
When it came time to hit the road to see their daughter play college basketball, the Wilhoits never thought twice about traveling.
"It's (traveling) just been something we've always done. We've always gone to all her games since she was little," said Ellen.
The traveling didn't just start in college either. Brooke mentioned several AAU tournaments when she and her parents made the long drives to destinations such as Arlington, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Okla.
"I thought it was going to be tough getting to all the games, especially the away games," said Shane. "But we love this team so much that it makes it really easy. We're just fortunate to get the time off to do it. We love the coaches and the team and everything about it."
When ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun last summer, though they were a little worried about the distance that separates the schools in the new conference, the Wilhoits never altered their travel plans.
"We were definitely worried," said Ellen on when she first learned of ETSU's move to the A-Sun. "We never questioned whether or not we were going to go to the games, we were just concerned if we were going to be able to arrange our schedules to do it."
The Lady Bucs' trip to Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla., didn't even stop the travelers, who made sure there were at least two ETSU fans in the stands.
"The scheduling has definitely helped," said Shane. "They usually play two games at a time on trips, so that's made it a lot easier on us."
Aside from the FAU game, when the Wilhoits were the only two in the ETSU stands, the Lady Bucs haven't been at a loss for cheering section. Many Lady Bucs' friends and family have attended ETSU games, helping the Lady Bucs to several big road wins.
"I love it when my teammates' parents come to games," said Brooke. "I really enjoy getting to see everybody, and our team really appreciates it."
When the Wilhoits discovered that the Lady Bucs' game at Kennesaw State was going to tipoff at 9 p.m., they have a difficult decision on their hands, one that was made a little easier by the fact that the game was being broadcast live on CSS.
"They missed our TV game (at Kennesaw State). They were going to come, but then when the time got changed they just couldn't do it, because they would have gotten home at five in the morning and had to go to work," explained Brooke. "They didn't really mind it, because they got to see us on TV anyway."
Back in Sevierville, the Wilhoits thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching their beloved Lady Bucs on live TV.
"It was the first time we've ever seen the Lady Bucs on TV," said Shane. "It was exciting. We really enjoyed that."
The Wilhoits missed their first game of Brooke's college career earlier this season, when scheduling prevented them from seeing the Lady Bucs play at College of Charleston in early December. But the Wilhoits still cheered on their team, listening to ETSU on the radio.
"He (Shane) actually had to yell at me, because I kept screaming," said Ellen on listening to ETSU on the radio. "But it was great that we got to listen."
The Lady Bucs are on the road again this weekend when they take on Lipscomb and Belmont in Nashville, Tenn., and one thing is for sure - the Wilhoits will be in the stands.
- JESS RIDENETSU Athletic Media Relations