Kevin Whitmore, left, hugs his father, Dick Whitmore, during his playing days as a member of the men’s basketball team at Colby College. Kevin Whitmore played three years with the Mules, scoring 1,357 points during his career. He was named and All-American during the 1991 season. Photo courtesy of Colby College Athletics

When Kevin Whitmore graduated from Colby College in 1991, wrapping up one of the best careers in men’s basketball program history, he may have figured he was done with the sport.

Not quite. The college playing days were over, but basketball and Whitmore still had a long way to go together.

In the years since his Colby days, Whitmore has helped keep basketball in the family tree. The son of iconic Colby coach Dick Whitmore, Kevin Whitmore has seen the same passion for basketball he had grow in daughters Katie, Maggie and Annie. Katie, now a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s College, and Maggie, a freshman at Bentley University, were standouts at South Portland High School, while 11-year-old Annie is on her way.

All throughout, Whitmore, now an account manager at the hedge fund company of Stone Coast Fund Services, was involved in their progression. He brought them to South Portland High games at a young age, then worked as both a head and assistant coach on their Firecrackers AAU teams from 2011-19.

“They kind of grew to love it. We didn’t want to pressure them into doing it or liking it or thinking that they should (play),” said Whitmore, whose wife, Michele, also played. “I think more organically, it kind of grew into something that they really liked, which was fun for us to be a part of and see them like it, see them work on their own and try to get better on their own. Hopefully our 11-year-old will enjoy it as much and want to work as hard.”

At the same time, Whitmore said the fact that the three daughters of two basketball players are players themselves is not a coincidence.

“I’m not going to say that we as parents didn’t give them a little push in that direction,” he said. “We’ve just always felt that sports and basketball in particular did so much for us, being part of a team and helping us get into college. The experiences we had were just so positive. … We were hoping our kids would get the same situation and feeling.”

Whitmore has experience coming from a basketball family, and carving his own path. He was a second-team All-State pick as a junior and a first-team selection as a senior at Waterville, and brought both talent, intelligence and intensity to the Purple Panthers as a point forward.

“Athletically, he was big. A solid 6-3 and very strong and fast, too. He was a tough package for anybody to match up with,” said Ken Lindlof, Whitmore’s coach at Waterville. “The most significant thing about him is he was a tremendous competitor. … Kevin’s kind of a quiet by nature, good-natured kid, but the switch goes on when he steps on the court.”

Lindlof also praised Whitmore’s leadership abilities, referencing a speech Whitmore gave to the team after a loss in his senior year.

“He goes ‘Coach, I’ve got this,’” Lindlof said. “I didn’t even go in the locker room. From down the hall, I could hear him kind of peeling the paint off the walls, challenging his teammates to do better and being extremely disappointed in the team’s effort and his own effort. That was a great example of leadership, and challenging himself and challenging his team.”

As a sophomore, Whitmore was the sixth man on Waterville’s 1985 state championship team.

“The city had been waiting to grab ahold of some basketball success,” Whitmore said. “To be a part of seeing how the city rallied around us and the support that everyone in the community gave to us, it really was amazing. It was so fun to be involved at that particular time.”

Basketball wasn’t the only sport in Whitmore’s heart, however. He was also an excellent quarterback, and initially went to Dartmouth to play Division I football. He was soon moved to tight end, however, and he found himself missing the hardwood.

“I loved playing football and I loved playing basketball, but I also loved working at basketball,” he said. “After going through it and realizing I missed serious, focused basketball, it didn’t matter what level I was going to be playing at. I thought having a chance to play meaningful minutes for a team would make me happier.”

Kevin Whitmore, right, and his daughter, Annie, stand next to a photo of Whitmore during his playing days at Colby College. Today, Whitmore is an account manager for the hedge fund company Stone Coast Fund Services. Photo courtesy of Colby College Athletics

The transfer to Colby paired Whitmore with his father, and with the duo together, the Mules rolled. Whitmore scored 1,357 points and hit 188 3-pointers in three years at Colby, was named an All-American in 1991, and was inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I never really thought about being a 1,000-point scorer,” he said. “In the back of my mind, I was hopeful I could reach some type of All-American status. Growing up, we would go to Colby games all the time and I would see Brad Moore in the mid-70s, I remember what a great player he was. He was an All-American. And Paul Harvey, Mike McGee. … For me, I think one of my goals was to work to maybe put myself in that kind of category with them.”

Like his Waterville teams, Whitmore’s Colby teams won. In 1990, the Mules went 26-1 and won their first ECAC championship.

“That was the only championship we could go to,” he said. “That was kind of a driving force, let’s put ourselves in position to see if we can win one of these things. And luckily, in 1990, we were able to put everything together.”

The experience of playing with his father helped prepare Whitmore for his turn as a basketball dad. He saw what would work and not work with a parent coaching his children. He wanted to help his daughters, but he also knew there was a limit.

“(My dad) never pushed us, we always knew that we didn’t need to play sports. He would be fine if we didn’t. That made a mark,” Whitmore said. “He was always willing and helpful and able if he could to help us, but we had to make the first move.”

When he was coaching Katie and Maggie, Whitmore knew there was a time to turn off the basketball switch. He’d coach the games, but he wouldn’t drag them out for more shooting practice.

“If I’m a coach for them in the offseason, they have to listen to me during practices and games,” he said. “If I was also going to work with them individually or the two of them together, that’s a lot of dad. I didn’t want to over-do it.”

Whitmore isn’t sure what his role will be with Annie. So far, Michele has taken the lead.

“I get a little break,” he said.

Whether he coaches or watches from the stands, Whitmore knows he’s filling his role.

“My most important job as a parent for children playing athletics is letting them know I really enjoy watching them play,” he said. “I want them to play hard and compete hard, be great teammates and listen to their coaches. That’s more important to us as parents than whether they did A, B or C on the court. I definitely learned that from my parents.”

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