Looking back: White reflects on long coaching careerGreg White wasn’t fond of Mayville State University’s campus when he drove in from hometown Indianapolis after graduating high school. It was a culture shock, to say the least.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Greg White wasn’t fond of Mayville State University’s campus when he drove in from hometown Indianapolis after graduating high school.
It was a culture shock, to say the least.
“My high school was bigger than Mayville and Portland put together,” he said. “I drove into Mayville State before my first football practice sight unseen. I was from downtown Indianapolis where there’s just people everywhere. I couldn’t stand it at first.”
But the dual-sport athlete met his wife, settled in and more than four decades later, he’s left his mark on the Jamestown area. The longtime wrestling coach retired at the conclusion of the Class A state tournament Saturday at the Fargodome after 37 years of coaching wrestling. Thirty of those were spent in Jamestown including the last 13 as head coach.
It was almost not to be, as his unhappiness grew in the first semester of college. He even had the paperwork ready to transfer to Ball State (Ind.).
“I wanted to get the heck out of Dodge,” White said. “Then I met my wife and that kind of changed things.”
He stayed a Comet, playing four years of football and wrestling for one season. That alone was not easy.
“The problem with football and wrestling in college is they overlap,” he said. “The wrestling coach is saying, ‘I need you to get smaller’ while the football coach says, ‘I need you to get bigger.’ Finally the football coach said, ‘Who’s paying for your college?’ and I said, ‘You are.’ Then I need you to commit, he said.”
He spent three years in Holdingford, Minn., as a math teacher while serving as head coach for football and wrestling and assisting with track and field.
“I didn’t see the light of day,” White joked.
White transferred to the Granada-Huntley school district three years later and spent four years there coaching football and wrestling.
But after seven years in Minnesota, he came to Jamestown looking for a bigger school and to be closer to his wife’s family.
“Jamestown is a nice-sized town to raise kids in,” White said.
One of the many moments White cherishes is watching both of his sons win state titles. His older son Mikkey was a state champion as a senior in 1998 and Daniel won titles his final two years of high school in 2001-02. Daniel also has the school wins record at 149. Both senior season titles were at 152.
“I went eight years back to back with a son on the team. That raises a whole new level of intensity,” White said. “I’d like to say that I tried to coach everybody to win, but the nerves that you get when it’s your own son just aren’t the same. It was a whole lot of fun. Three state titles out of them.
“Mikkey was, let’s go out and brawl, throw each other around and see who comes out on top,” White said. “Daniel was all control. He was a very good technician.”
Thoughts of what he could mean to the lives of those he’s influenced nearly bring him to tears, evident when he spoke of a text message he received from one of his former wrestlers thanking him for the memories.
“It’s neat to get things like that,” White said. “There have just been so many quality people that have come through the program. Three officials (at state) and two coaches are ex-Blue Jays. That part of it is so neat to see they got that desire to be in the sport and stay in the sport.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org