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McCargo perseveres to succeed at Salem International

Whitney McCargo, a former Halifax County High School varsity girls basketball standout, has achieved success despite a number of setbacks while attending Salem International University (W.Va.).

McCargo has endured injuries and several coaching changes in her four years at the school and has her sights set on graduating in April.

Salem International University was one of four West Virginia schools that joined the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in July 2013, and competes at the Division II level.

The Tigers also compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in various sports including basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer.

“I wanted to be at a small school, and I chose the school because of the coach,” recalled McCargo of her decision to attend Salem International University.

“I’ve had five coaches since I’ve been there.  The first coach was actually an assistant coach, and the head coach at that time left in the middle of the year and took all her players with her, and she ended up having to get softball players to help her finish the year.”

That was the year before McCargo arrived, and she decided to take a redshirt year her freshman season.

“This is my third year playing, and I have another year left to play, but academically I’m a senior,” she explained.

“I’m eligible to play another year at another school if I get into a master’s program somewhere else.”

At least two of McCargo’s high school teammates have found success at the collegiate level, including current Virginia Union basketball team members Melyse Brown and Stephanie Carr, and a number of Comets girls basketball alumni returned home for the holidays.

“I miss my teammates, and I actually wanted to get home to play with them this year,” said McCargo.

“This was the first year we were all home together.

“It was good going to the (holiday) classic and seeing the younger girls playing together, it bought back memories.”
Injuries her freshman year and this year have been roadblocks to her progress, but McCargo has persevered, averaging almost 16 points and almost eight rebounds a game.

She was named Division II Corvais ECAC Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 15 after averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds with six blocks in three games.

McCargo has played all five positions on the court since arriving at Salem before settling in at her natural position at the “three” guard.

The business administration major is nursing an injury but still is grateful for the opportunity to play basketball and get a college education at the same time.

“It’s kind of disappointing now, every year I try and compare my college team to my high school team and it just doesn’t compare,” said McCargo.

“But, I’m getting an education, and being at an international school I’m learning about other cultures.

“That’s what I really love about my school.”

“I always remind myself some people don’t get this far, so make the best out of it.”

“I’ve stuck it out,” added McCargo, who has yet to decide on her future plans beyond graduation.

She may apply for graduate school and continue her basketball career or pursue a nursing career.

McCargo has some advice for younger girls dreaming of playing collegiate basketball.

“I don’t feel I worked hard in high school, and if I had worked harder I could have been at another school or maybe at another level,” she explained.

“Once I started working out on my own, I saw how much better it made me. 

“Also, focus on the books, because in order to be an athlete you have to get the student part down first.”