Stephanie White: Fever coach enjoying variety in shared worlds of coaching and broadcasting
Fever assistant coach Stephanie White is enjoying the best of both worlds, these days! The former high school and college hoops legend in this state has embarked on a coaching career that has carried her through the college ranks and now into her fifth year as a WNBA assistant coach.
But before the WNBA and Fever take the court in late April training camps, White still is busy with the college game. She spent the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. as an ESPN analyst. She’ll call regional games next weekend in Des Moines.
Between broadcasting gigs, Stephanie took time to answer questions from FeverBasketball.com’s Ashley Bureau.
March 19, 2012
Feverbasketball.com: What are the main differences between the work you do with BTN and ESPN?
Stephanie White: “The main difference is for BTN I do a lot of studio work and for ESPN it is all game work.”
FB: What is the difference between working in the studio and doing live-coverage of a game?
SW: “When doing a live game there is a natural interaction with who are you working with, the energy of the environment and the game basically gives you all of the information you need. In the studio there is not interaction, just me talking to the camera. Studio took a lot of getting used to for me because there wasn't as much banter and it was much harder to adjust to speaking to the camera.”
FB: As a coach, what differences do you see between college and professional basketball?
SW: “The most significant difference is that we don't get much time with our athletes. So, as far as development they are often on their own to hone their skills. The players are bigger, faster, and stronger and the game is quicker and becoming a more versatile, wide open game. There is also less time to prepare so it's much more about concepts than about in-depth strategies.”
FB: How has being a former player helped you in your roles as a coach and an analyst?
SW: “It's helped me because I see the game wearing a few different hats. I understand the competitiveness and emotion that players feel, the way they see the game and the physical/mental demands placed on them. I also see the strategic, game management side much more clearly as a coach, and as an analyst I have to look at it from a much more critical side as opposed to strategic. I think that having filled all of those roles has allowed me to see things in different lights, be more flexible, communicate things much more on both sides and understand how to communicate better so that the message is clear.”
FB: You knew you wanted to coach after playing basketball, but did you have your eye on being an analyst as well? How did that opportunity come about?
SW: “I did not, it was just pure luck. I was in the right place at the right time. When I was in Chicago coaching with the Sky, BTN was just starting. Eric Collins was doing play-by-play for the Sky and I used to do all of the interviews with him. He asked me why I didn't do any TV work and I had no good answer, just hadn't ever thought about it. So, he gave me a number to contact someone at BTN and the rest is history. So I thank Eric Collins each time I see him for giving me another career option.”
FB: As a former Purdue player and a BTN analyst, what was it like to see Purdue take the Big Ten women’s championship this year? Is there a sense of pride, or can you really be entirely neutral?
SW: “I was happy for the players because it hasn't been the easiest couple of years for them emotionally with Drey Mingo and her illness/injury. Honestly though, I am happy for every team that wins it for one reason or another. I have been gone from Purdue long enough to be able to stay neutral and objective. I am a fan of the game as much as the next person so I like good stories, good games and am genuinely happy for players, coaches and teams that do things the right way, overcome obstacles and find ways to be successful.”
FB: You have moved around a decent amount throughout your career, how does it feel to be coaching back in the state where it all started for you?
SW: “It feels great. It is really difficult to explain, but Stephanie White the player seems like it was a different person and like it was a lifetime ago. I am always striving to be better, to reach other goals and I think for that reason, I will never truly reflect on things I did as a player (until I’m much older of course). Being back in Indiana is special because I get to see so many of the same faces as when I was playing. Our staff at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the best and it makes my day to see so many of the same smiling faces in our building. The same is true for the fans that have been here for so many years, it really is just like coming home every time I step in the building.”
FB: What is your favorite part about working for the Fever?
SW: “My favorite part is the people. We are surrounded with smart, driven successful people that push each other every day to be better, but that also care about each other personally and that makes such a difference.”
FB: You were once teammates with Tamika Catchings, what is it like to be coaching someone you once played with?
SW: “Tamika is always my frame of reference when I speak at events because she sets the bar very high. She is a tireless worker and gives everything she has every single day. She is everything you want in an athlete and role model. Coaching her has been a joy because I never have to question her motives, she's a competitor and she wants to win. I feel that having played with Tamika gives me a little bit of insight in how to best communicate with her more than anything. She’s such a tremendous player, but an even better person and I’m very fortunate to be able to work with her on a daily basis.”
FB: You have a busy schedule with coaching, being an analyst and you had a baby last year, how do you manage to maintain a work/life balance?
SW: “I'm still trying to figure that out! I worked with a guy named Mark Ehlen at Toledo and he taught me so much in terms of remembering what's important. Many people define who they are by what they do. I don't want that to be me. I love what I do and am very lucky to be able to live my passion every day, but when I go home at the end of the day or after a road trip and my son smiles at me... whether we won or lost is the last thing on my mind at that moment.”
FB: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Coaching? Being an analyst? Both? Something completely different?
SW: “Coaching is still my passion and my ultimate goal is to be a head coach someday. I won't rule out being an analyst, each year I do this I love it a little more. It keeps me in the gym, it gives me a different perspective, it allows me to be around the game and at the end of the day I get to be a part of some of the greatest games. I will keep my options open for sure.”