Coaching is a full-time job. Coaching is just like any other job in that you show up everyday and work until the work is done. Coaching is also a business- a business that requires wins and production and demands no days off.
Now imagine this: stepping into the shoes of former Fever head coach Lin Dunn, who has 500 wins to her name. Imagine taking a head coach position where you spent the majority of your life and thus the people of the city know nearly everything about you from your high school glory days, to your college career, and what you achieved as a WNBA player.
Sounds like a lot of pressure, doesn't it? Head coach Stephanie White in her first season with the Indiana Fever has turned a lot of heads as of late. The coaching profession portrayed as a "business" is so often stigmatized as winning at all costs. Because, let's be real, not every coach is in it for the right reasons, and too often the politics are masked by success.
The story as told by Stephanie White is a much different one. From the outside looking in, it is obvious she was born to do much more than coach and win basketball games. She was born to empower women through the multiple hats she wears as a mother of three, a sports broadcaster and a head coach. Perhaps her status as the youngest active coach in the league is the biggest weapon in her arsenal.
It was not very long ago White won a National Championship at Purdue and continued her career in the WNBA for the next five years before retiring in 2004. Comparatively speaking to other coaches in the WNBA, White's memories of her time as a player could very well be fresher than most.
Much of White's coaching philosophy stems from what made her tick as a player in being open, blunt and honest. Her high-energy and ability to motivate are an added bonus.
While her previous coaching experience cannot be dismissed when speaking of the success she has found this season; it is no secret she has an incredible rapport with her players. The only proof needed to back up these observations is game film from the last four finals games or a sound bite from halftime in the locker room.
Besides, what player actually responds to a coach they don't trust, believe in or even like? It would have been easy for the Fever to resist the changes White has implemented in her inaugural season- especially after such a shaky start to the year. She is doing much more than just study the game of basketball.
White has crept into conversations of being one of the best in the business primarily because she does not treat it as one. Her uncanny ability to put players in the best possible positions to succeed is hard to miss. And as a result, the wins seem to be a byproduct of her team whom she has developed and molded in more ways than one.
White might be coined a rookie, but when push comes to shove, she is far from it.