Softball coach Mike White already building Texas legacy after 4th year

Nick Hargroue, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the July 19, 2022 flipbook.

As a man who coaches a female sport, Mike White, Texas softball head coach, might seem a bit out of place to the untrained eye. However, to those who have played with and for White, he appears right at home.

In his prime, White was an ace pitcher for the New Zealand and United States national softball teams, winning two gold medals in his career. White’s wealth of experience in the game of softball is a valuable asset as a coach, inspiring confidence in the players he leads on a daily basis.

“He’s the best pitcher in the world,” Oregon outfielder Shannon Rhodes said back in 2018. “I know that no pitcher out there is gonna throw better than him, so if I can hit coach White I can hit anything.”

White began his career as a head coach in 2010, taking over at Oregon from his previous boss Kathy Arendsen. White led Oregon to five Pac-12 regular season championships — including four in a row — and five Women’s College World Series appearances in his nine-year career as the Ducks’ head coach.

After the 2018 season, Chris Del Conte, vice president and director of athletics at Texas, enticed White to leave Oregon to coach the Longhorns. Upon his arrival, White wasted little time and got to rebuilding Texas’ team, bringing star transfers Mary Iakopo and Lauren Burke from his Oregon team to Austin. These players served as cornerstones along with incumbent star Janae Jefferson in building the foundation for this year’s WCWS runner-up team.

“(Mary Iakopo and I) definitely developed a strong relationship with her coming over. I feel like we know each other like the back of our hands,” Jefferson said in June. “I just feel like as a senior class, we were all strong. … If our bond was strong together, then it spread throughout the whole team.”

As the Longhorns struggled at the beginning of the 2022 season, losing all five games of the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, not many expected them to compete with top-ranked Oklahoma for the national championship. However, White used those losses as a teaching moment for his young team, placing a proverbial chip on their shoulders for the remainder of the season.

“(This season) was an amazing journey,” graduate transfer pitcher Hailey Dolcini said. “It didn’t start out the best, but no one expected us to be where we are today. And, (our young players) are great leaders and our team loved them … They stood up for us and had our backs the whole entire season … For next year, I mean, we just pass on the legacy to new girls coming in.”

In his short time on the Forty Acres, White has already begun building his legacy, something that he knew would be affected by how he reconstructed the Longhorns’ foundation early in his tenure. Referencing the book “Legacy by James Kerr, White set a goal for himself and his players to leave the program better than it was when they arrived.

“I think that’s what all those seniors can say they did,” White said after losing the WCWS finals. “We’ve set all sorts of new records and standards for our program. We’re not the standard of Oklahoma, I get that, but this program is rising.”