Coach gets 700th rec. league win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

Back in February, Michael White lost his father, James.

&uot;He was my number one fan,&uot; White remembers, watching his recreation league basketball team, the Lake Kennedy Clippers, work out. &uot;He was always in the stands, cheering me on.&uot;

White, who was in his first year of helping coach Nansemond River’s varsity team, told coach Ed Young he didn’t want time off.

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&uot;I told him that if he needed to take two days off, if he needed to take a week off, I’d understand,&uot; Young recalls. &uot;His comment was ‘Coach, if you don’t mind, this is my therapy. You, the kids, the program, that’s my therapy.’

&uot;I said, ‘If we’re your therapy, we’ll give you all the medicine you need!’&uot;

That week, White was back on the bench, helping the Warriors to victory – a trip that didn’t stop until River had brought home its fourth straight Southeastern District title.

Of course, with White around, winning’s all but a sure bet. In July, he and the Clippers took part in a summer league at the Huntington YMCA in Norfolk, going 8-2.

One of those victories was White’s 700th as a recreation league coach. In 19 years of helping out the Clippers, he’s compiled a 710-103 record.

&uot;This team’s been doing pretty good,&uot; he says, watching the squad work out at Booker T. Washington Recreation Center. &uot;They’ve helped me out a lot as far as vision on the court goes.

&uot;I just want everybody who wants to become a Clipper,&uot; he says. &uot;They have to have discipline. Everybody has bad days, but what happens at practice stays at practice. Working on fundamentals is important.&uot;

Those are lessons that Demestrius Harper’s been learning for the past four years.

&uot;Playing for Coach White is a positive thing that keeps me out of trouble,&uot; says the King’s Fork High School graduate, 20. &uot;I figured that playing ball and staying out of trouble would make my life easier.

&uot;In order to play for him, you have to have a positive attitude,&uot; Harper continues. &uot;With his conversation and communication, he’s easy to talk to. Everything I’ve done, he’s done before.&uot;

Young and White first got acquainted during Young’s years of leading the Green Run squad.

&uot;He called and asked if he could bring his team over and scrimmage by junior varsity squad,&uot; Young says. &uot;I said, ‘No problem.’

&uot;I can be rough and gruff, but Mike’s not like that. It’s just his demeanor. He’s calm and collected, and he gets his point across without raising his voice.&uot;

That’s why, when Young was asked to take the River reins last summer, he knew who he wanted by his side.

&uot;I called him and let him know that I was taking the job,&uot; Young says. &uot;I said, ‘Any possibility of you helping me?’

&uot;He was ecstatic. He was speechless. I didn’t hear an answer for about 30 seconds. I said, ‘Mike, are you still there?’ He said, ‘Yes! Yes!’

&uot;People may smirk at his record. People may say that it’s just recreational league, it’s not college. But 700 wins is 700 wins. I haven’t even coached that many games. But we need people who can coach and mold, and Mike White fits that description. He’s the kind of guy we need with young people.&uot;

He’s going to start again soon – the Clippers will head to Newport News next Saturday for a tournament at the Miller Community Center, then scurry down to Gates County for another event. In mid-September, tryouts will start for next season.

So how much longer will White’s coaching career go? When will the centennials of victories come to a close?

&uot;People ask me that a lot,&uot; White says, &uot;and I always say the same thing – as long as I can get a ballplayer to walk through the doors at Booker T. Washington’s gym and want to play ball, I’ll be around.&uot;

Sounds like James would be proud.