Nearly every one of Stephanie White’s early coaching stops played out void of fanfare.
They include one season as an assistant for the Ball State University women’s basketball team, the following winter in the same position at Kansas State and two years at the University of Toledo.
Have whistle, will travel.
Story continues below gallery
And since White already had retired as a player following the 2003 WNBA season, traveling couldn’t be viewed in a negative light.
Perhaps not the most glamorous gigs within the industry, White used these mile markers and others in her (nearly) 38 years to learn as much as teach.
White’s attention to detail, competitiveness and towering hoops IQ are about to be tested like never before as she begins her first season as head coach of the Indiana Fever.
The fifth head coach since the franchise debuted in 2000, White succeeds the always opinionated Lin Dunn, whose seven seasons netted a 155-119 record (.566) and the 2012 WNBA title.
White herself played five WNBA seasons, the final four with the Fever. White’s final two WNBA seasons (2002 and 2003) were the first two for Fever mainstay Tamika Catchings, a former roommate during Fever road trips who is beginning her 14th season as a player.
“The biggest difference for us as players is knowing that Steph has been there with us. She’s been a player. She’s been around. Just the culture Steph has kind of put in place here,” said Catchings.
“She’s easy to talk to. She’s always around. She’s on the court with us. Working out with us. A lot of it is just knowing she’s really in there.”
White first came into the public’s view as a schoolgirl basketball legend in Indiana having scored 2,869 points at tiny Seeger High School from 1991-95. She went on to earn All-American honors at Purdue University and led the Boilermakers to the 1999 NCAA championship as a senior.
Now married and mother to three young boys, White is busier than ever. This includes her work as an announcer for college women’s basketball for the Big Ten Network and ESPN and as a pre- and postgame host for Indiana Pacers broadcast.
White earlier this week sat down with the Daily Journal for a Q&A:
Q: How will your team’s style of play differ from Lin’s teams, if at all?
A: I think we would like to make it a little more up-tempo on the offensive end of the floor. A little bit more free-flowing. Allowing our players to read a little bit more. Allowing our players to play versus run plays. Obviously it’s a huge transition. It’s a change in mentality, so it’s not something that’s going to happen right away. We would like to be able to push a little bit more in terms of our pace; and we’d really like to do that on the defensive end, as well. One of the things we have to do as a staff and really as a team is maintain perspective. We’re not going to go from zero to 60 in the first week. My goal is to be pretty good at it by the end of June, to be really good at it at All-Star break and to be great at it as we head into the playoffs.
Q: Which player or players could potentially thrive in this system?
A: I think Shenise Johnson is. It’s going to be great for Briann January, who is an up-tempo, high-energy type of guard. I think the reads are going to be very good for players like (Jeanette) Pohlen, Maggie Lucas and Layshia Clarendon, who once they learn how to play with one another, now if you take away one option you have a second option. You take away that option and there’s a third option. But, again, it’s being able to slow your mind down like a quarterback to see the progression of your reads.
Q: With everything you’ve done as a player, assistant coach and even broadcaster, what has most prepared you for this challenge?
A: Being a parent. Honestly, you think about the perspective that your kids give you. The patience that being a parent demands. You think about wanting to have a schedule, but it always changes. We’re dealing with all those things. For all the experiences that I’ve had playing the game, coaching the game and whatever else, I think being a parent has taken me to another level in terms of a lot of the intangible things that coaches have to deal with.
Q: Now that you’re the head coach and not an assistant, do you scale back your non-Fever job responsibilities?
A: I scaled back in terms of my TV this year. That allowed me more time at home. But one of the things I want to do for my children is be a good role model in terms of you work hard to accomplish your goal. You take advantage when you have those opportunities. To be the best that you can be. But it also takes extreme time management. One of my goals for myself is when I’m home I want to be home. I want to be all in and to be able to spend time with my family. And when I’m at work I want to be at work. I think those are all quality lessons you can teach your children.
Q: Do they like seeing you on TV?
A: (Laughing) Yeah, they do like seeing me on TV. It’s funny because they expect to get a response. I’ll get pictures of them kind of pointing to the TV. Video of them saying, “Mommy, Mommy.”
THE WHITE FILE
Name: Stephanie White
Family: Partner, Michelle; sons, Landon, 3, and twins, Aiden and Avery, 1
High school: Seeger (1995)
College: Purdue University (1999)
Did you know? White is No. 2 on Indiana’s girls career scoring list having totaled 2,869 as a player at Seeger High School from 1991-95 … four-year starter at Purdue University, where as a senior she led Boilermakers to 1999 NCAA women’s basketball title with a 62-45 victory against Duke in the championship game.