Whitney Geathers always knew she was a writer.
"English has always been my favorite subject. I've always loved writing," she said. "I would much rather write an essay than do a project. That was never my thing."
She studied elementary education at the University of Central Florida. It's where she met her husband, Colts safety Clayton Geathers. It's also where she got the idea to write a children's book.
"I took a children's literature class. The whole class was children's books. We had a project where you could choose a children's book or make your own. I didn't make my own, but I knew at that point that I one day wanted to."
That day came when she was expecting her daughter, Carsyn.
"When I got pregnant, it was, 'Ok. I've got to start building a library for my daughter and I don't really see a lot of books that look like her. And Mommy went to school for elementary education, so why not just do it myself?'"
Geathers released her first book, "Numbers Naturally" in April of 2017.
"It was a counting book one through 10 and it was a bunch of different things we can do with our natural hair, things that we do to take care of it. That was really for her," she said. "Young black girls tend to have identity issues. We live in an area where there aren't a lot of other kids that look like her. I wanted her to know that it doesn't matter who's around you. Your hair makes you who you are. You are the bomb.com with or without it."
It was a message that resonated with others.
"A lot of people loved it and I got a lot of positive feedback on that, so I was like, 'Ok. Let's just do another one.' I started working on my second book only a few months after I released the first one."
She released her second book in June.
"You Can, Too, A Collection of Black Exellence From Past to Present," was also a labor of love.
"It's dear to my heart, even more so than the first one just because the message behind it is so big," she said. "Especially for African-American kids that feel like sports is their only way out – no, it is not. Look at these people – all of them did things other than sports."
From Johnny Cochran to Ella Fitzgerald, "You Can, Too" is a collection of stories of inspirational African-Americans who followed their dreams, made history, and left a legacy.
And while she generally tried to leave athletes out, she did include a few.
"They did so much more, especially Walter Payton – he did way more than just football. Muhammad Ali did way more than just boxing."
Whether it's on the field or in the classroom, she wants all kids to find their calling and pursue their passion.
"Use your gifts. You don't have to be like everybody else. Use what you have."
That's what Geathers is doing – using her talent to fill what she sees as a void in children's literature. When she takes Carsyn to the library or the bookstore, she doesn't see many books like hers.
"I can probably count them on one hand," she said. "It's sometimes uncomfortable to go to a bookstore and have it be a section. I don't want to be a section. I want to be included with all of the books."
She dedicated her latest book to the woman who gave her the confidence to be the woman she is today – her mother, Gloria, who she lost in December.
"I did struggle with it early on. But overall, my mom definitely instilled that in me," she said. "She was always proud of me."
Whitney Geathers found her calling as a children's author.
"The keyword for everything that I write is confidence. I want kids to be confident in who they are."
She's following her dream.
And she has a message for kids.
"You can, too."
For more information on Whitney Geathers and her books, visit her website: https://www.whitneymg.com.