Coaching girls’ basketball has given Corcoran High Coach Doug White many things. It has given him 15 league titles (11 consecutive titles), 10 section championships-the most in section history—and now it has given him is 447th win to claim the record of being the Most Winningest Girls’ Basketball Coach in the Section.
However, when asked to describe his 22-year career in just three words he said it “Gave him Purpose”.
“Life can be a chaotic mess unless you have something that keeps you focused,” White added.
As Coach White nears retirement age he reflected on his career and where he goes from here.
“I don’t know what the future holds. I’m getting old and my body is breaking down. I have arthritis in my back and sciatica in both legs. It’s hard to get through practice at times. I don’t want to go out on the bottom.” he commented.
White definitely won’t go out on the bottom as his team defeated Woodlake last Thursday to give White his 447th win. That win placed him first in the Section for most wins in girls’ basketball. White tied Glenn Hager, former Stockdale High School coach three weeks ago. Hager who is retired boasted a record of 446-168. White is now 447-196 and hopes to amass more wins over the next couple of years. But where did it all start?
White began coaching at John Muir Middle School as the boys’ B team coach. He coached under longtime Corcoran coach Al Davenport. He was there for three years and then moved as the JV boys’ coach at CHS under Kevin Durfee, who White says “was one of the most honorable men that I have ever met”.
When Durfee left White worked with Mark Hatton and he says that’s where he picked up how to teach pressure man defense.
White coached the JV boys’ for five years, which gave him a total of
eight years with the boys before he took over the girls after Jeff Hall left in 94-95.
“They (the girls’ team) had won Valley before and had four starters returning and were getting Charissa Butler from the junior high as well as Sara Brown back from a knee injury. I had the sense enough to know it was a good situation. We struggled at first but got it together in time to win valley again,” White noted.
As he looks back he also recalls several of his favorite times from his career.
“One of the most important games I have ever coached was an overtime loss that year to Taft in the finals of the Corcoran Tournament. I had gotten a technical at a critical time. I went into the locker after the game and it was like a Jerry Springer episode,” White said. “I learned that night that coaching girls and boys was going to be different. I brought ice cream to the very next practice and instead of having a scream fest to work out our problems we had an ice cream social. That year we also beat a highly rated Lemoore team and the win turned our season around. There were a lot of skeptics around, and that win gave me some breathing room. Then they started seeing what our pressure defense could do. We set a scoring record for the valley that year.”
Another one of White’s biggest games was another loss to a very talented Monache team in his second year of coaching.
“It was in the finals of the Redwood Tournament. We should have won the game. A referee blew a call and awarded one of their best free throw shooters two shots when she wasn’t even involved in the play. Monache went undefeated until they lost in the valley finals that year. That loss proved that we could play with anybody around here which enabled me to upgrade the schedule,” he added.
One year, CHS ended the high school career of Eshaya Murphy, a player who went on to play at UConn. One of the best valley championship games was the year Corcoran beat the Lena Gipson led San Joaquin Memorial Panthers in what was considered a big upset. There was also the time the Lady Panthers beat Granite Hills at home.
“It was the year before the section allowed us to play at Selland, and it was standing room only with an electric atmosphere,” White noted. “Then the first time at Selland, standing on the stage with the trophy was a big thrill”.
The past 22 years most obviously had an impact on White and Corcoran due to the girls’ basketball dynasty he created. But what White may not realize is what a tremendous impact he had on his players.
Former player Charissa Butler, who earned a scholarship to UOP in Stockton and is currently coaching the CHS JV girls’ team, said White has been a constant figure in her life for the past 20 years.
“Your dedication, guidance and sacrifice are immeasurable. It has been an absolute pleasure having you in my life. You’ve taught me how hard work and overcoming adversity can place you in a position for greatness! For over 20 years you have been there for me. Thank you for my most cherished moments, successes and not judging me thru my failures,” Butler commented. “You have always been more than a coach; you are a mentor and friend. I am ecstatic to have witnessed this achievement and feel privileged to have participated in 113 of those 447 wins. Here’s to many more victories!”
Sara Brown Murdick, played for Coach White from 1994-1997. She went on to play at Millkin University (1997-2001) in Illinois and is currently still one of the top players in scoring and rebounding for the Big Blue. Murdick said she has learned lessons from Coach White which affect her today.
“What an amazing accomplishment for a wonderful man! I am so proud to be a part of his legacy! In trying to think back to his first years of coaching, a few things stand out. First of all, his quiet but fierce and strong demeanor was a change for us girls. A man of few words, the words he chose to verbalize were often profound (the product of the English teacher in him). His learning curve in dealing with 12 teenage girls was both impressive and entertaining (retrospectively, of course)! In the midst of one particular rough patch where our synergy as a team was impacting our performance over multiple games, he tried various angles to remedy this, but ended up with his shoulders shrugged as he stood outside of the locker room and instructed us to not exit until we had figured it all out. An hour and many tears later, we were back to our old selves and continued on the road to one of many championship seasons. I’m fairly certain that tactic would not have worked as well with boys!” Murdick added. “Second, as a player who thrived on understanding and dissecting the logistics and strategy of the game, his mastery in this area was more than impressive and nurturing. He could manipulate our defense in the midst of the game or devise a play during a time out like no other coach, and it was gratifying to see his thought process come to life on the court. I have the utmost respect for Coach White, as he helped mold me not only as a player but as a young woman, and the lessons learned continue to serve me well today. I am honored to have been able to be there at the beginning of his legacy, and always proud to be a Panther!”
Doug’s daughter Lindsay White played for her father from 1998-2001 and went on to play at Occidental College in Orange County.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my dad, not just for this enormous achievement, but also for what he means to Corcoran and for what he means to me. He studies the game of life and the game of basketball and wakes up each day making an earnest effort to improve himself and those around him. As a teacher, as a coach, as a father, he shows up just as eager to learn as he is ready to teach”, Lindsay said.
Melissa Harris played for Coach White from 1999-2002 and went on to play at Fresno Pacific University.
“There are few who say that their time in high school was easy. Basketball gave me an outlet to be a part of something great. Initially it was about all the accolades of being a Lady Panther and the prestige that comes with a winning program. In reality, it wasn’t because we were ‘winners’ per say, it was because of the standard that we were held to at such a young age that created human beings who understood a little more about life,” Harris noted. “Coach always made lessons of loss and winning into life lessons. He invested his time, knowledge, and life to developing good people, not just basketball players. He saw in us, what we couldn’t see for ourselves-to see past the small town, and dream of something bigger. Through Coach, I was able to imagine something I couldn’t yet see, and I am forever grateful. I’m proud of you Coach for keeping the tradition alive.”
And although there were plenty of former players who commented on Coach White it was CHS Athletic Director Robert Lerma who remarked on Coach White’s stellar career and the reason for his success.
“Coach White’s greatest asset as a coach is that he is willing to put in the time to make his players a little better than the teams that he plays. It is not as if CHS has been blessed with collegiate talent that allows Coach White to roll out the ball and let the better team win. His numerous victories were earned by his dedication to teach student-athletes the fundamentals of this game and his record is a testament to all coaches that if you are willing to put in the time and work, success follows. Doug has been able to attain this for 20 plus years which in and of itself is remarkable,” Lerma said.
He makes his teams and his players better. He helps them to rise to their full potential. He may have trouble getting through practice nowadays at 63 years old but White has two more years to impact the lives of his players and the people around him. We salute White for what he has given to CHS and his players over the years. He has given Corcoran something to be proud of. He may have posted more losses than wins this season but the real loss will be when he does retire and hangs up his coach’s whistle for good. For when he is coaching, whether he is running practice, pointing and yelling, running his hand through his hair or throwing his clipboard he gives his team purpose-a purpose, which continues past the final buzzer and off the court and well into their adult lives.