During most of the year, things are pretty normal at the Whitehursts’ north Charlotte household.Among the things Troy and Shonda Whitehurst and their three children enjoy together are watching movies, sitting down for an occasional game of Scrabble and spending a lot of time at their church, New Birth Charlotte in Huntersville. But there are two days a year, Shonda says, when domestic peace gives way to “real war.”As an assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach for the Vance High Cougars, Troy Whitehurst sometimes coaches against the Vikings of North Mecklenburg, where his son, Khalil Robinson, is a junior guard. Twice a season, family members are forced to pick sides in this minor civil war. There’s a chance the teams could meet in the first round of the I-Meck 4A Conference tournament this year, should Vance finish the regular season in first place and North Meck place last. Going into last week, which included a Friday showdown between the two teams, there was a distinct possibility for a post-season matchup. “We go back and forth all the time,” said Khalil. “He likes to brag when he wins. He enjoys competition.” The Vance-North Meck rivalry is not the only basketball schism that divides the Whitehurst home. Troy and Khalil are die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fans, while Shonda loves the Miami Heat.On a collegiate level, all of them are all loyal to the UNC Tar Heels.Troy worked selling advertising and doing voiceovers in television, film, and radio before he became a teacher and high school basketball coach. He blew his first whistles at the YMCA and AAU levels before he accepted a position as girls’ basketball coach at Lake Norman Christian School in 2010. Last year, Troy was named boys’ junior varsity coach and boys’ varsity assistant coach at Vance, making him a natural rival to his son’s team. At the time, Khalil was in his second season on North Meck’s junior varsity. Khalil had played AAU ball for his father’s team since he was 8, but this was the first time Troy ever coached against his son. Vance won both of the junior varsity meetings between the teams last year. Also a first-year teacher at Oaklawn Language Academy in Charlotte, Troy’s familial rivalry with his son has reached greater significance with Khalil in his first season of varsity play. Khalil is a key player off the bench and was disappointed in North’s 57-51 loss to Vance on Jan. 11. Stuck in the middle is Shonda Whitehurst, supportive wife and doting mother. She makes no excuses for being more loyal to her son and rooting for North Meck over Vance. Shonda says that Khalil was at North Meck before Troy was at Vance, although she and Troy gave Khalil the option of transferring to Vance once Troy was hired there. But Shonda also is the Vikings’ team mom and wears the school’s blue and red colors proudly. “I’m a competitor,” said Shonda. “I’m sticking with my son. I love my husband but we have two days where there’s a few hours and we’re not on the same team. But it’s all in fun.“I like the competition, but I’m not changing. It’s not happening.” Troy is not entirely on his own at home on days when Vance and North Meck are scheduled to play. Though 8-year-old daughter Aniyah is true to her brother and mother’s team, 4-year-old Alyse is still young enough to be coached into picking her daddy’s school. Most of the trash-talking that takes place on game days is between Troy and Shonda. Troy and Khalil try to keep their conversations business-like, even avoiding the opportunity to share team secrets. Through years of coaching him and playing one-on-one against him in their driveway – contests Khalil claims he wins – Troy knows Khalil’s on-court tendencies but doesn’t exploit them with his Vance players. Aside from a Vance victory, Troy says, he would like nothing more than for Khalil to have an outstanding game against his Cougars.
Friday, Feb. 08, 2013
Twice a year, father and son compete on the court
When Vance, North Meck play, family lives in a house divided
Troy Whitehurst, left, is an assistant boys basketball coach at Vance High, and his son, Khalil Robinson, right, is a junior guard at North Mecklenburg. Stuck in the middle of their rivalry is Troy's wife and Khalil's mom, Shonda Whitehurst.