As a coach’s daughter, a former two-sport college athlete and a current coach and administrator, athletics have been a part of Amy White’s life for as long as she can remember.
But this summer she had an experience that provided her with a new perspective on what it means to be an athlete.
White, who serves as head women’s golf coach and NCAA compliance officer at Arkansas Tech University, traveled to Greece to witness the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
“Each of those kids, if you meet them one time, they never forget you,” said White. “Everything means so much to them. There are so many things the rest of us take for granted. It makes you re-evaluate your life.”
The experience was also meaningful for White because she had the opportunity to travel with her father, Johnny White. He retired as director of athletics for Cabot public schools in spring 2011 following a 35-year career with the district.
“To be able to share something that cool with him was unforgettable,” said White (photographed, right, with her father at the Olympic Stadium in Athens). “The opening ceremonies…I had tears coming down my face thinking about those athletes. There were 185 different countries represented, and anytime I would let myself focus in on the kids’ faces the tears would start flowing. They were just so happy to be there, and to think about everything they had achieved to make it there was very emotional.”
The shared love of sports between father and daughter helped Amy White become a letter winner at Arkansas Tech in both basketball and golf.
She enrolled at Tech in fall 1999 and joined a Golden Suns basketball program that had reached the NCAA Division II national championship game the previous spring.
White was a contributor for the Suns from day one. She made 65 3-point field goals, which is tied for seventh-most in a single season in school history, during her freshman campaign in 1999-2000.
Her 100 career 3-pointers are ninth-most in Golden Suns’ history. She helped Tech win the 2000 Gulf South Conference West Division title and earn bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2000 and 2001.
Following the 2000-01 season, White stepped away from basketball to pursue a new challenge --- college golf.
She was a member of the first women’s golf team at Arkansas Tech in 2001-02. She earned three golf letters and graduated from Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 2004.
“I got into golf because my Dad played every day and I wanted to follow him,” said White. “I played in my first tournament when I was 6, and he was my caddie. I was the only person in the tournament, so I won it. My parents never thought I would even play basketball. They were shocked when I said I wanted to try out for the basketball team in seventh grade. Once I showed an interest, that’s when my Dad started working with me and developing me into a player.
“I love basketball and golf equally,” continued White. “They are two very different sports. Basketball is up-tempo and you have to make quick decisions. In golf, you have to be level-headed and you have a lot of time to think about different things, which can be frustrating. It’s a good combo.”
Following graduation White retraced her steps, albeit in a different way.
She returned to the Tech women’s basketball program as a graduate assistant coach and later the full-time assistant coach. White was on the staff for the Golden Suns’ NCAA Division II Tournament teams in 2007 and 2008, but ultimately it was once again the game of golf that drew her attention.
She recently completed her fourth season as the head women’s golf coach at Arkansas Tech, and it has turned out to be a good move for both her and the university.
The Golden Suns golf team won the Gulf South Conference championship April 17-18 at Hot Springs Country Club. Arkansas Tech unseated five-time defending champion West Florida with a 16-stroke victory. It was the Golden Suns’ first conference championship in golf.
If you wonder what the league title means to White, who has watched the Tech women’s golf program evolve from the very beginning, look in her office. The first thing you will see is the GSC trophy proudly displayed on her desk.
It’s just another way that the daughter has followed the father. But White still has a long way to go to catch her Dad. After all, he won 18 state championships as the boys’ and girls’ golf coach at Cabot.
“I’ve always followed in my Dad’s footsteps,” said White. “He was so happy when we won the GSC championship. I call him after every tournament and ask for input about what I can do to help a kid. He’s always there with good advice.”