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Fever's Stephanie White making Indiana proud

Coach Stephanie White has made it through an entire season in her first year as a head coach in the WNBA, but she is no stranger to the team she now leads.

Chris Poss

When the Indiana Fever was founded in 2000, White was drafted to lead the team's inaugural season roster. She had only been one year into her professional career, playing for the Charlotte Sting.

After retiring from basketball in 2005, White found herself back in Indiana in 2011 as an assistant coach for Lin Dunn. Today, White is calling the shots from the sidelines for a team she spent most of her career playing for.

"To be able to be a part of an inaugural franchise, the first ever Indiana Fever team, as a player, and then to be apart of the first ever Championship as a coach coming full circle in terms of our franchise, that was a really special moment for me," White said.

White's basketball career goes all the way back to playing for Seeger High in her hometown of West Lebanon, Indiana. From Seeger High, White would go on to play for Purdue University where she was named National College Player of the year and Big Ten Conference Player of the Year on the way to leading Purdue to the NCAA National Championship in 1999.

"When you're so focused on the things that you're trying to accomplish now, you really don't take the opportunity to enjoy the things you've already accomplished. So when I think about my Fever career, not just as a player, but the first moment I stepped on the floor in Bankers Life Fieldhouse to come back to play at the pro level, that was awesome for me."

In her new role with the Indiana Fever, White coaches alongside an old friend she had once competed against. Assistant Coach Gail Goestenkors was formerly the head coach at Duke when they lost to Purdue in the NCAA Championship game—a championship that White stole from the Blue Devils.

Despite the past rivalry, White says having Goestenkors and Gary Kloppenburg—two former head coaches in the WNBA, has helped tremendously.

"They have seen every situation that I'm faced with and going to be faced with, and they are awesome to have to help me avoid situations or help me deal with situations."

Situations such as learning to be excellent visual learners in addition to physical learners are what White says can be most challenging.

"You have to be able to really watch the film and mentally correct the mistakes you're making on the floor, and sometimes that's difficult."

When the team is on the road almost three times a week, White says adjusting to the limited practice time that may be available while traveling can be the most challenging part of preparing for games.

Nonetheless, White leads her team with the same mindset she's had all season.

"This season I really wanted our team to be about laying the foundation for what we're going to be about, and that's continuous improvement. That's continuing to get better every single day. Certainly there are a number of challenges in terms of figuring out rotations for us to be successful.

"We, like every team in the league, have dealt with a number of injuries and being able to play who's available, when they're available and getting everyone to understand the importance of everyone on our team."

White gives credit to what she calls a "good group of veterans" who know the ups and downs a team can experience throughout a season.

"You can hit winning streaks, and you can hit losing streaks, and everybody does it. I think the biggest thing is to really focus on the things that have allowed you to be successful."

Indeed, White has focused on the things that have helped her reach success and is humble in doing so. In a state where the sport is so celebrated, and women's basketball is at an all-time high, White is living her dream in Indiana where it all started.

"I don't think you can ever really dream that it can line up as perfectly as it does— to be able to play at every level and coach at the highest level in your home state. I never could have predicted that."