Ever since Mark White was announced as the new head coach of the Whitley County High School boys basketball team, he has had to contend with strict limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he has recently been able to meet with members of his team inside the gym, and he couldn’t be more excited to finally get to work.
“This will be my 31st year of coaching,” the Logan County native said recently of his background in the sport. “I’ve had 15 years as an assistant, and 15 as a head coach. 27 of my 30 years has been spent in college ranks.”
White said a desire to once again coach high school players eventually brought him to Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn. He led that team last season to an appearance in the quarterfinal round of the state championship tournament before the opportunity to come back to Kentucky presented itself with the opening at Whitley County.
“There is nothing like coaching basketball in the state of Kentucky,” White said of his return to his home state.
As for having the opportunity to be the new coach of the Colonels, White said, “There are a lot of really good things happening here. Everyone is really committed to winning, and there are a lot of great resources here.”
And as for finally being able to get inside the school to actually take advantage of those resources, White explained, “When I got hired I couldn’t meet the team or do anything, so when we were finally allowed to meet and start doing some stuff together it was awesome. I was so excited to get the word that we could begin meeting with our kids. It’s been great to finally get to meet them and their families.”
“I’ve been very impressed through these first few weeks with the kids,” White continued. “They’ve been a great bunch to work with so far. They’ve had a lot of energy, and have been going really, really hard.”
Speaking about his personal approach to coaching, White said, “I’m just an old Kentucky boy, and I believe that nothing ever will take the place of crazy hard work. If you want something changed you just have to work, work, work. You have to outwork everybody. That has always been a big key to my success in coaching. It just becomes a habit, and it gets ingrained in them to always compete crazy hard.”
Although it is much too early to know how things will look for the Colonels when they tip off the 2020-21 season later this year, Coach White is encouraged by what he says should be a team that will feature good balance between its junior, sophomore and freshman classes. The varsity squad featured no junior or senior players on the roster last season, so the next two campaigns should see the same core group returning together to the court.
For this reason, White says the Whitley County High School varsity boys basketball program is full of promise right now. “I really like the balance of the classes,” he said. “It’s hard to tell right now, but I think we will be a very good shooting team from the perimeter. I think we will have some good playmaking guards, and we should be able to spread people out offensively. We’re not very big, but we are doing strength training in the weight room, and one thing that I am really, really big into is nutritional enhancement.”
Finally, White said, “We just have to change the culture, and the bottom line is you have to do that with a lot of hard work. I have liked what I’ve seen so far, though. We’re just going day-to-day, and every day that we come in here our goal is to leave just a little bit better than the day before. That’s just how we’re doing it.”