Katie Chin | Daily TrojanThis past week, Whittingham moved into the fourth position in all-time career digs at USC and is expected to move into third before she graduates.“She is a walk-on and she is setting records,” head coach Mick Haley said. “That is pretty darn special.”Whittingham is an inspiration to all walk-on athletes of what they can accomplish through hard work and perseverance. On top of that, she is also a leading force on the court for her teammates as her experience, her attitude and her presence on the court are something they have come to rely on.“She is such a calming force and is never freaking out,” freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier said. “You just have to look to the veterans on the court and she keeps me in check.”Being chosen as captain is not something that Whittingham takes lightly either. Part of her impact on the court is through the younger players that have the chance to learn from her. However, she also feels as if she is constantly learning from them too, while helping to continue to build the legacy of USC’s program.“I really pride myself in being a calming force out there,” Whittingham said. “Any way that I can help others and that they can help me in return is something that is really important.”This season, Haley and the team had a taste of what it will be like without her, as she suffered an injury to her right knee that kept her off the court for a week. While a week is a small period of time in the grand scheme of injuries, not having the staple of their defense was felt by everyone.“There is no question it is a big difference not having Taylor out there,” Haley said. “If Taylor could have been playing with us against UCLA and Washington, we feel like we would have had a much better match in each of those situations and possibly could have won.“We want to have her in there even if it is one-legged,” Haley said, laughing.Her time out of the games was not much easier on Whittingham, as she always wants to be on the court making a difference. She had a lot of praise for the strength coaches helping her to get back so quickly — with a lot of rehab and icing — but also lauded her teammates for adjusting to her abrupt absence.“It was hard being on the sidelines, just wanting to contribute and help my team,” Whittingham said. “It was definitely a quick change and something they didn’t expect, but I think they did a great job when I wasn’t out there.”Her drive to make a difference is one of the many reasons she has been named a candidate for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award — an award for NCAA Division I senior athletes who excel both on and off the court in the community, the classroom, their character and competition. Whittingham is the fourth candidate from USC to be nominated and the last since All-American libero Natalie Hagglund in 2013.Whittingham’s list of accomplishments in her time at USC is impressive given the countless hours she puts into the gym and school at the same time. She has a 3.00 cumulative GPA in both her major, communication, and minor, consumer behavior, has led the Pac-12 in digs in both the 2014 and 2015 season and is a three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week winner.Off the court, she has participated in service projects at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and served as a counselor for USC’s annual inner-city outreach program. She was also a counselor for the Girl Scouts program in 2014-2015 and even found time to go to China with the Pac-12 All-Star Team in the summer of 2016 to put on free volleyball clinics.With all she has done for both the women’s volleyball team and the school itself, Whittingham has certainly established a legacy at USC. Whittingham’s influence and leadership are things that will stay with this team even after she is gone.