Adam White always wanted to be a writer.
The current boys lacrosse coach, and English and writing teacher at St. Sebastian’s School, which has won two of the last three championships in the Independent School League, played both lacrosse and hockey while attending Dartmouth College. But when it came time to choose a profession after graduation, coaching wasn’t immediately on his radar.
White (Damariscotta, Maine) joined host Jack Piatelli on the latest episode of “New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal” podcast to talk about the upcoming ISL season, the challenging recruiting landscape and what coaching now means to him, among other topics.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Jack Piatelli: Did you always know that you wanted to get into coaching?
Adam White: I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after college, except be a writer. I was a creative writing major in college. Really, when I realized I would not be pursuing my dream of playing hockey and I had to find some other passion, I knew I wanted to pursue creative writing after school. My and two of my college teammates, we went on a three-month road trip after college, interviewing young people all around the country. We piled into an RV with one other friend. We called it the Young American Project and were making a documentary about it; we were going to write a book. … Then I moved out to L.A. and I was doing the write-by-day, wait-tables-at-night.
I always knew if I got into coaching it would be kind of a problem because I would really love it and I’d be passionate about it and I’d put a lot of time into it. In my early 20s, I was so hell-bent on pursuing writing that I knew there would be some interference there once I started coaching. And I’m passionate about teaching, too. As you know, when you’re coaching, there’s sort of an endless amount of time you put into it. Because I love it so much it’s become a big part of my spring, and my whole year.
JP: Now looking back, can you see yourself not coaching?
AW: No. Or looking ahead, I can’t see myself not coaching. It’s so rewarding. Yeah, there was something nice about living in Santa Monica, writing and then going for a run along the beach and looking at the mountains, and then going out to wait tables. But I wasn’t making anybody’s lives better. I was maybe getting some celebrities their steaks medium-rare and doing an OK job of that, but this is a lot more fun.
JP: What kind of players and student-athletes are successful at St. Sebastian’s?
AW: You’ve got to be prepared to work hard; that’s the obvious thing. But working hard becomes easier when you really love where you are and what you’re doing. If you’re looking at St. Sebastian’s and it feels like a place that you want to be, it’s probably a place where you’re going to love the work that you do. We’ve got a lot of kids here that show up early for school, who stay late, they’re working with each other. There’s a work-hard, play-hard atmosphere around here and it extends to the lacrosse program as well.
JP: How have you and your players handled this whole challenging situation we’ve been in with the pandemic?
AW: We’re out there playing now, which is awesome. Bummed to lose last spring, especially for the seniors. Last spring we were doing weekly Zoom calls; I give the guys a lot of credit, they really bought into those and had some fun. We had some video challenges where each class would make a video, then we’d combine it with a pushup challenge. We were just trying to do different things to keep it interesting. But that’s not sustainable; you can’t do that forever.
JP: Players worry about recruiting and are they going to get recruited. How do you handle that as a coach?
AW: It’s a conversation that doesn’t come up at all during the spring. I’ve never had a kid come up and say, “Coach, I’m worried about being recruited,” or, “Hey, if I’m not on the man-up does that mean I’m not going to get recruited?” Because during the season they’re just having fun and they care about the team and that’s it.
It’s when the spring’s over, and it’s not that they’re a different person, but that’s when they start seeing that maybe their buddies are getting phone calls, or their buddies are showing up on some recruiting lists or committing already, and that starts to build the anxiety. That’s why this past year was so hard for some of these kids to get through, because not only did we not have that spring season where you just focus on the team, and that’s all you care about, but also there were fewer spots … and that waiting was really hard for a lot of guys. It always is.
But there’s a lot of different paths to get to where they want to go to. The more they can focus on academics, and the more they can think about the school that they really want to go to, that can bring some clarity to the situation, I think.
“New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal” podcast is sponsored by: