Feb. 5, 2007
From the frozen tundra to the heart of Hollywood, Whitney McCauley has left her mark already as a performer with a bright future. The Rice junior from Anchorage, Alaska, is certainly one of the university's most visible students, despite missing most of the past two basketball seasons due to injury.
While McCauley is working toward a degree in sports medicine, her long-term focus will be on acting. She advanced to the final 32 on "America's Next Top Model" last year, and then scored her first television role as the older sister of Smash Williams on NBC's hit series, "Friday Night Lights". In the studio, McCauley has recorded demo songs with former Owls' men's star J.R. Harrison.
A hot-shooting guard who helped the Owls to the WAC title as a freshman, McCauley took a leap of faith in coming to Rice, a campus she had never set foot on until after she committed to play ball for the blue and gray. "I wanted to be somewhere where I could get a degree that meant something," McCauley said. "I visited the campus after I signed, and it was unreal, so unlike the busy city of Houston surrounding it."
After moving from Virginia to America's great white northwest when she was five, McCauley chased the spotlight as a singer, performer and athlete. High school basketball gets a lot of attention in Alaska, but getting college scholarship consideration entailed a lot of trips to the "lower 48" to get noticed.
Off the court, McCauley was involved in pageants, admittedly not her favorite activity, and she was active as a singer. When she was 13, she chose to forgo a modeling career in New York City to concentrate on basketball, and that love for the game carried her through high school.
A knee injury her senior year, though, was a harbinger of things to come. McCauley played in 21 games as a freshman and was poised to be a key player for the team last year before another knee injury felled her after two games. During rehab she re-injured herself, and after making a comeback to earn all-tournament honors at this season's Florida International Fun & Sun Classic, she suffered yet another injury.
The injuries have tested McCauley's faith, but she feels there is a hidden benefit. "I have become a stronger person, and I believe it happened for a purpose. It has helped me not take things for granted. I have tried to inspire others by never quitting."
Whichever spotlight shines on her next, Whitney McCauley will certainly be one of Tomorrow's Leaders.