Brenau University named Jeffrey Scott White of Cumming, Ga., to the head coaching position for the Golden Tigers intercollegiate volleyball team.
The California native, who is a doctoral candidate. in education at the University of Georgia, fills the vacancy left by the departure in the middle of her fifth season of Meredith Franklin. The Tigers, skippered on a fill-in basis by tennis coach Andre Ferreira finished the 2011 campaign with a disappointing 3-12 record, which was second from last in the Southern States Athletic Conference East division. Ironically, the Tigers 12-18 overall record was the best since an impressive 24-11 run in 2009.
“I think it is an under-statement to say that Jeff has some challenges ahead,” said Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor, “but in his own coaching record he has done more with fewer assets than what he is inheriting in the Brenau program. He is a great leader and I believe he is just what the Tigers need to get a promising program on track.”
In 1998, as a fledgling high school track coach in suburban Atlanta, Jeff White literally answered a call for a volunteer to take over the girls’ volleyball team whose coach had abruptly resigned at the beginning of the season. He subsequently took Alpharetta’s Chattahoochee High School Cougars to two final four appearances in the state AAAA championship, including finishing second in 2001, and earned coach of the year honors.
After moving to Northview High School in nearby Johns Creek, Ga., he won multiple “coach of the year” honors again by taking the Northview Titans team to the “final four” in the AAAAA state championship tournament – the only Georgia coach to take different teams to the state championship finals. After making it only to the quarterfinals round in 2006, the Northview team roared back to repeat its ’05 state championship with back-to-back championships in 2007 and ’08.
Three of his Georgia players have won state player of the year honors, 17 were named to all-state rosters and 10 have gone on to play college volleyball from Mississippi to Michigan.
White, however, brushes aside the personal honors. “I don’t care so much about awards,” White said. “I care about championships. If you’re winning championships there will be plenty of individual awards.”
He is also optimistic about the Brenau program. He already knows some of the Brenau players through his work since 2002 with various club teams in the Atlanta area, and he is only losing two seniors from the squad. Mekenna Cipres from Murietta, Calif., returning senior, impressed the team and coaches during her freshman year as a setter, which White compared to the quarterback on a football team because “the setter runs the show” on the floor, orchestrating all the offense. Danelle Russell, from Cartersville, Ga., and Melissa Thornton, from Woodstock, Ga., return as experienced seniors also to the pivotal score-making outside hitter position.
“It’s comforting to know that we already have experienced players in three very important positions,” White said. “Eight experienced players’ returning will make it easier to recruit.”
Lochstampfor said White extensive experience coaching at high school and club levels will be an enormous asset in recruiting. He explained that volleyball recruiting is considerably different from recruiting in other sports, when players usually wait until their senior seasons to decide which college offer to accept.
“It’s important to get to know them when they’re freshman or sophomores in high school, or earlier.” White agreed. “In volleyball, girls will commit early, and when they commit, they don’t back down.”
White was a high school basketball stand-out in California, but conceded that his academic interests and athletic interests “just didn’t match up.” He started his college career as an aspiring marine biologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara – coincidentally at a time when the Gauchos were ranked in the top 20 nationally in NCAA and knocked off the dynastic early 1990s UNLV Runnin’ Rebels temporarily off their perch. “I certainly wasn’t good enough to play at that level,” White said, “and I didn’t want to go to school at the places where I could have played.”
He ultimately earned a B.A. in kinesiology at California State University at Northridge, a master’s in health studies at the University of Alabama and, he says, is ‘about half-way through” the sport pedagogy Ph.D. program at Georgia.
After college, making what he thought would be a relaxing cross-country road trip, he stopped in on a job fair at Arizona State University and wound up taking a detour the next week to Fort Worth, Texas, where he taught in an inner-city middle school for two years. He followed that with coaching duties at Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif., but that was only a temporary job. On another job-hunting “road trip” he stopped in to visit his brother, who is a Delta Air Lines pilot based in Atlanta.
“Being from California, the only thing I knew about Atlanta was that the Braves played in Fulton County Stadium, which I figured had to be somewhere near Atlanta.” So on his second day in town, when he came across the Fulton County Schools building, he popped in to inquire about how to put in an application. Just as with the Fort Worth experience, he walked out with a job that started the following week at a middle school in the northern part of the county. He also became track coach at Chattahoochee.
Any potential recruits interested in being part of the Golden Tigers volleyball program or and Brenau intercollegiate athletics should contact Mike Lochstampfor, athletics director, at (770) 534-6231 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.