After broadcasting Bradley Central sports for 53 years, Whitlock announced this summer he was stepping away from the microphone. The Bear and visiting Polk County fans showed their appreciation during a special halftime ceremony of the season-opening contest.
“It was a wonderful time. We felt a lot of love and appreciation for what we’ve done over the years, from not only the Bradley fans, but the Polk County people as well,” commented Whitlock, “It was a terrific response. It makes it all worth while.”
“The Voice of Bradley County” not only received the appreciation of the local fans present at the game, but was given a proclamation from the Tennessee State Legislature, presented by state senator Todd Gardenhire.
The proclamation in recognition of Whitlock’s long broadcast career, as well as his many contributions to the community, was signed by Gardenhire, along with fellow state senator Mike Bell, plus state representatives Kevin Brooks and Eric Watson and Lt. Governor/Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey.
Local mayors Tom Rowland and D. Gary Davis also sent a joint proclamation from the city and county governmental administrations.
Bradley County Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel and Bradley Central Principal Todd Shoemaker also presented Whitlock with a plaque to commemorate his dedication and support of the school.
Coming to Bradley County from Florida in August of 1961, Whitlock has been behind the microphone for literally thousands of high school, college and elementary school athletic events.
He has broadcast somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 live athletic events covering Bradley Central, Cleveland High, Walker Valley, Polk County, Ooltewah, Lee University and Cleveland State. He has also broadcast elementary basketball, Dixie Youth baseball tournaments and even a wrestling match.
Whitlock has participated in broadcasting 20 state high school championship finals, included among his approximatively 80 TSSAA football playoffs and state basketball and baseball tournaments.
In Whitlock’s first year (1961) on the air in Bradley County, the Bears were voted the No. 1 team in the state of Tennessee in football. That same academic year saw the Bradley Central boys and girls both win state championships in basketball. This is the only time a school has won the coveted “triple crown” in Tennessee high school sports history in the same year.
Whitlock covered almost the entire career of the late, great Jim Smiddy who retired in 1992 as the head coach of the Bearettes with a national record of 1,217 victories.
The Bearettes posted a 90-game winning streak and back-to-back state titles in 1975 and 1976 plus won the “mythical” national title after being voted as the No. 1 in the nation during those years.
Whitlock also broadcast the Bears’ football playoff game in 1995 that went a record seven overtimes and resulted in a one-point loss at Farragut, 65-64. This game still holds the state record for most combined points scored by two teams in a football game and also the most overtimes.
He was also there when Bradley claimed the state football title in 1976, defeating Jackson Central-Merry 50-48 in triple overtime on Thanksgiving Day at MTSU. This game was proclaimed the “National Game of the Year” in high school football.
Whitlock traveled to Detroit with the Lee College Vikings when they won the National Christian College Athletic Association championship in 1968.
Whitlock has been inducted into the Bradley County Old-Timers, Bradley Central Boys Basketball and Lee University Sports hall of fames and has a pair of local facilties named in his honor — the Bear Stadium press box, as well as the Dixie Youth “Whitlock Complex” on Urbane Road, which is named for him and Annette. Whitlock coached the Phillies in Dixie Youth baseball for 35 years.
“Working with the young athletes and coaches over the years and building those relationships, is the best part,” Whitlock proclaimed. “Seeing them grow up and having them come back and thank you, let’s you know you’ve done something good.”