White Named Head Coach of SSU Softball Program
Story by: Shawnee State University Athletics
Finding a coach with a penchant for improving programs and winning at every stop is important for any program to have.
It’s clear that from a softball perspective, Sam White has done that as well as anybody in the game.
The Headland, Ala. native, who helped fellow Mid-South Conference and NAIA member Lindsey Wilson develop into a national powerhouse as an assistant before taking the head coaching reins at Bluefield (Va.), will be the next head coach of the Shawnee State softball program, as announced by Shawnee State Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m humbled to be the choice and lead this softball program,” White said. “(Shawnee State Athletic Director) Jeff Hamilton and (SSU President) Jeff Bauer have done an outstanding job settiing this position and program up to be successful while trying to compete with one of the top conferences in the country. The Mid-South Conference is outstanding — having five teams ranked in the top-25 at one point during this past season — and I believe that Shawnee State saw an opportunity to compete in the conference and take it to another level. They want to see this program competing at the top of the conference every year. I’m humbled to know that I was their choice.”
“Sam White is a great addition to our athletic department,” Hamilton said. “He brings so much positive energy and excitement to our softball program. His engaging personality will bring our team together and his ability to recruit top level talent will create opportunities for our program to compete at the highest level. He has a proven track record of excellence in the classroom as well as on the diamond. He knows this conference and what it takes to win at a national level. As we prepare to add a field to our campus footprint, Coach White will lead our program with integrity and set our goals to reach the top of the MSC. I am looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to work alongside him.”
Showcasing a strong work ethic early on in his career, White impressively held down multiple jobs at two different places, coaching at Ashford (Ala.) Academy as the school’s head softball coach, serving as its assistant varsity football and basketball coach and coaching junior varsity basketball in 2005 and 2006 — all while also coaching at Wallace State as an assistant softball coach and a recruiter and outfield coach from 2004 to 2007.
In 2007, White was brought on by current Lindsey Wilson head coach David Dews to become the head recruiter, pitching coach, and offensive coordinator for the NJCAA Division I program at Darton State (Ga.). Together, Dews and White combined to lead Barton to a 181-58 overall record and two NJCAA World Series appearances, including a fifth-place finish in the World Series in 2011. White later obtained the Faulkner State Community College head coaching position for a season, leading the Gulf Shores, Ala.-based campus to a 39-14 overall record before rejoining Dews at Lindsey Wilson.
Lindsey Wilson experience proves fruitful for White
While Dews and White posted excellent success at Darton together, that was only the precursor for what was to come at Lindsey Wilson.
Teamed back up with Dews for the next five seasons, White helped Dews get out to a roaring start with the Blue Raiders as the duo combined to go an outstanding 103-19 … in their first two seasons together alone in 2014 and 2015.
In the latter of the two campaigns, White helped Dews and Lindsey Wilson compile a 53-8 overall record as the Blue Raiders finished as the NAIA National Runner-Ups in 2015. The 53 victories — and 33 wins in a row — became new program-standards that still stand today.
In all, White helped Lindsey Wilson post a fantastic 229-64 overall record over five seasons from 2014 to 2018. He coached 11 NAIA All-Americans, 40 All-Mid-South Conference honorees, two MSC Pitchers of the Year, two MSC Freshmen of the Year and a MSC Player of the Year.
“It means a great deal to me,” White said of his past coaching experiences. “I’m not where I’m at today without the players I’ve coached. They helped set the standards and put the cultures in place to allow our teams to improve and win softball contests. I’ve also had some great mentors and have been so blessed to work with some outstanding people in coaching. I’m kind of old school. I like to get my hands dirty and put the work in.”
From Bluefield (Va.) to Shawnee State
After his latest stop — where White improved Bluefield to a 16-19 overall record in just one season with the Rams — the veteran coach will make the move to Shawnee State.
His goal? To recruit top-flight individuals — regardless of their location.
“We’re going to recruit top talent,” White said. “That will stand out most certainly, but more importantly than that, we want to create a culture where it’s more than just words that you say as a recruiter. We want to create lifelong friendships and relationships for our players. Many of these girls come from farther off, and they need somebody that they can trust and believe in. We just want to try to be that rock and stable force where they can feel that they can come to you immediately and feel like you are having a genuine conversation with them. That’s a big part of why I like this position. Shawnee State feels like a home. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and it’s a place where kids can feel comfortable getting their education away from home.”
At Shawnee State, White believes the Bears can obtain success quickly with the talent that’s already there in addition to the talent that he plans bring in. SSU was 8-30 last season as a program, but the Bears lost 15 games by four runs or less — a promising sign considering the youth present on the Bears’ roster.
“I’ve seen a little bit a tape and researched the young ladies,” White said. “A lot of the games were close. That experience is huge the following season, especially when you’ve got a young team on your hands. That’s always a plus. You’ve got a ton of experience in a great conference where there’s great competition game-in and game-out. The cupboard’s not bare — the kids are obviously athletes. They understand how to play and how to compete. When you add a couple of pieces here and there, then all of a sudden, you’re jumping up there playing with the top teams in the conference. There’s talent there. They’ve gone through a season and understand what the competition level is now in the Mid-South. That excites me a great deal.”
For White, the goals on the field are clear — and those are to compete for Mid-South Conference Championships and NAIA World Series appearances well into the future.
However, White’s just as concerned, if not moreso, with making sure that the so-called little things are taken care of.
“I’m excited to see how much improvement will happen from this past season to this coming one,” White said. “I believe that you will see a big jump in the way that the girls play, as well as the way that they compete. Once we develop those building blocks to compete in one of the toughest conferences in the country, we want to make annual trips to the NAIA World Series. Bigger than that, however, the goal is to graduate all of our kids and make sure that they have a great experience. If we recruit the right way and do the little things the right way, the big things will take care of themselves. We need to make sure these kids are taken care of, getting their education, and are happy so that they can be successful in life down the road. If we do those things, the remaining factors will take care of themselves.”
White is married to his wife, Lidia. They are parents to four children.
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