Candace Whitaker was named the head coach of the UMKC women’s basketball program on Mar. 19, 2007. Whitaker, who is the seventh head coach in the Division I era at UMKC, enters her sixth season at the helm of the Kangaroos with the second most wins in UMKC women's basketball history in the NCAA Division I era. She returns a wealth of experience, while adding three newcomers. Whitaker led the 2011-12 Lady 'Roos to a 3-0 record on a three-game tour of Costa Rica in August of 2011, winning by an average of nearly 53 points per game
A firm believer in the development of student-athletes both on and off the court, Whitaker's tutelage has led to professional playing contracts for Chazny Morris and Alyssa Klein. Additionally, her teams have excelled in the classroom, as every student-athlete who has completed eligibility under Whitaker has graduated from UMKC. She has coached 36 Summit League Academic all-League selections and 14 Distinguished Scholars and her teams have consistently finished in the top-three of all athletic teams at UMKC in the Life Skills Challenge, a friendly competition centered on community service and personal and professional development.
In 2010-11, Whitaker led the 'Roos to a 14-16 record overall and a 9-9 mark in Summit League play, including wins over Oral Roberts and IPFW, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the league. During the season, the 'Roos were crowned champions of the Lady Osprey Holiday Tournament, where freshman Eilise O'Connor was named Tournament MVP. Under her guidance as a former point guard, Whitaker helped guide O'Connor to a spot on The Summit League all-Newcomer Team, while fellow freshman Ashli Hill made her mark on the defensive end, setting the UMKC freshman record with 72 blocks, the fourth most all-time in a season in school history.
Off the court, the Kangaroos had one of their most successful seasons under Whitaker, as nine 'Roos were named to The Summit League Winter/Spring Academic all-League Team, six were named to the Comissioner's List of Academic Excellence and two were named Distinguished Scholars.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Whitaker led the Kangaroos to their first post season tournament berth of the Division I era, when UMKC was invited to participate in the inaugural Women's Basketball Invitational. Her squad closed out the year with a 16-16 overall record, including the first win over Drake in UMKC history, with the .500 winning percentage being the second best for the program since its admittance into The Summit League. Whitaker also guided the `Roos to a 12-6 league record and a fourth place finish in the league standings, including the first win in school history over South Dakota State on Jan. 11. The 12 league victories were the most in school history, while the .667 winning percentage was the second best all-time.
Under Whitaker's guidance, UMKC advanced to the semifinals of The Summit League Basketball Championship, as it knocked off No. 5 seed North Dakota State, 76-75, in overtime. Whitaker closed out the 2009-10 season as the second winningest coach in school history.
Whitaker coached Morris to First Team all-Summit League honors, and the guard finished as the school recordholder for career points. Whitaker's student-athletes also excelled in the classroom, as six earned Summit League Winter/Spring Academic all-League honors, while three were named to the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence.
In the 2008-09 season, Whitaker recorded a then career-high 12 wins and seven Summit League victories, highlighted by an appearance at The Summit League Championship. She guided her young squad to a 12-18 record on the year and went 7-11 in league play.
During a Jan. 3 contest against Western Illinois, Whitaker saw Morris net her 1,000-career point, as the guard became just the seventh player in school history to surpass the scoring milestone. Morris went on to earn first team all-league honors and Summit League Player of the Week honors in December. In the classroom, Whitaker had seven players earn Summit League Winter/Spring Academic all-League honors and two were named to the Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.
During the 2007-08 season, Whitaker led her squad to an 11-20 overall record, highlighted by a semifinal appearance at The Summit League Championship. With the Kangaroos 3-15 finish in league play, UMKC entered the Championship as the No. 7 seed, where it set up a match-up against No. 2 seed Western Illinois. Whitaker led her team to the 62-55 upset of the Leathernecks, a feat they couldn’t accomplish in two games during the regular season, to advance. The Kangaroos couldn’t keep their momentum, however, as they suffered a tight 54-42 semifinal loss to IUPUI.
Whitaker had a plethora of athletes earn honors for both their work on the floor and in the classroom. Alysa Klein was named to The Summit League all-Tournament team and earned second team all-league honors along with Morris. Morris was also recognized as The Summit League Player of the Week on Dec. 4, 2007. Whitaker also had three student-athletes named to The Summit League’s Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence and had eight student-athletes land on the Winter/Spring Academic all-League team.
Whitaker took over on the sidelines for Bo Overton on Dec. 11, 2006, and compiled an 8-11 record for the Kangaroos, while being one of the youngest head coaches in the nation at 26. In Mid-Con play, she guided her squad to a 6-8 overall record and a tie for fifth place in the Mid-Con regular season standings.
A trio of players earned all-league honors under Whitaker’s tutelage. Klein was selected as a first team all-conference selection, while Stephanie Brown was an honorable mention all-league honoree. Morris, meanwhile, was selected to the all-newcomer squad and she was named the Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year.
From 2004-06, Whitaker served as an assistant coach for the Kangaroos under Overton. During the 2005-06 campaign, UMKC improved three games in the Mid-Con regular season race, as they finished with an even 8-8 mark. In the regular season finale, UMKC became one of two league teams to post a win at Western Illinois, a venue where the WIU had previously won 46-consecutive games.
Whitaker guided Brown to first team all-conference and all-newcomer honors and the junior was selected as the Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year. The forward was the first UMKC player to be awarded the accomplishment.
In her inaugural year in Kansas City, Whitaker helped guide the Kangaroos to the championship game of the 2005 Mid-Continent Tournament. Overall, UMKC finished 10-20 overall and 5-11 in the league.
Under her guidance, three players earned all-conference honors. Katie Houlehan was a first team all-league selection, while Klein was named to the all-newcomer team. Houlehan, Klein and Sammi Knapic were all selected to the 2005 Mid-Con all-Tournament team.
Prior to her appointment at UMKC, Whitaker spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Valparaiso. While at Valpo, she helped the team to two straight Mid-Continent Conference Tournament championships, two NCAA Tournament berths and two 20-win seasons. The NCAA appearances were the first in the history of the school.
Whitaker arrived at Valparaiso after playing at Texas Tech for two seasons (2000-02). She led the team to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances as the Lady Raiders’ starting point guard under legendary coach Marsha Sharp.
Prior to her two seasons at Texas Tech, she played two years at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan., where her team was ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1999-2000 after finishing fifth nationally the season before.
Whitaker was named an Honorable Mention National Junior College Athletic Association all-American after she averaged a double-double in assists and points. She also led the nation in assists under Head Coach Jim Littell in 99-00. Whitaker was also a member of the NJCAA National Team that played in Europe.
A prolific playmaker, Whitaker finished her career with more than 830 assists in four years of collegiate basketball.
A native of Canyon, Texas, Whitaker received a bachelor of science degree in exercise sport science from Texas Tech in 2002. She also earned a master’s degree in sports administration at Valparaiso in 2004, where she received the Athenaeum award for academics. She was married to Matt Whitaker on April 28, 2007, and the couple had their first child, Westin, in December of 2009.