Defending champs ready to compete
Returning gold medalists are taking the humble road to Houston and WhataGames 2019 Finals
The gold medal Andres “Andy” Cano won at the WhataGames 2017 Finals is coming out of its frame on the wall and going into a suitcase.
It will be Cano’s lucky charm when he and his teammates from Unit 4 in Kingsville compete in the WhataGames 2019 Finals.
Like all the teams headed to the finals, the Kingsville competitors see glints of gold on the Houston horizon. As the defending champions from 2017, though, they’re feeling added pressure.
“Everybody’s trying to beat us,” says Cano, who is one of six gold medalists on the returning team.
“Since we won last time, and almost half of our team members are returning, we need to make sure we have the right mindset,” says GM Hector Candanoza says. “We can’t get full of ourselves.”
Building on a Legacy
Stepping into the winning shoes of former Unit 4 GM George Delgado Jr. was daunting for Candanoza, whose two-year anniversary as a Whataburger Family Member falls on the day his team rolls into Houston.
“Not only is the pressure on to maintain everything George did here, but I have to maintain the gold too,” Candanoza says.
Coach Candanoza repeats a track mantra as his team of six veterans and nine rookies conditions for WhataGames. ”Just stay the course and maintain a steady pace throughout the race.”
He also reminds them that WhataGames is about more than the medal.
“Yes, we want to win, but what we really want is to be better people,” he says. “Just go up against yourself and be a better version of yourself. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Unit 4, the first Whataburger outside Corpus Christi, opened in 1952, and its customers have remained loyal. The 2017 winning team made the front page of the local newspaper, the Kingsville Record.
Now, the customers are a cheer squad for the Unit 4 team.
“Every day, customers ask us about WhataGames,” Candanoza says. “They ask if we’re ready, and they tell us they’re praying for us.”