The California State Athletic Directors Association named Oak Ridge’s Stephen White the 2013-14 Sac-Joaquin Section Athletic Director of the Year. He was nominated and selected by his peers from approximately 150 schools for the honor.
White has taught and coached at Oak Ridge since 1994. Before becoming athletic director 10 years ago, he coached three different sports, but has since stayed focused on girls’ varsity basketball.
“I’ve settled into basketball because there isn’t enough time to do it all,” White told Village Life.
“As a kid growing up in San Jose I played just about everything,” he said of his lifelong love of sports. “My dad was a coach and sports guy and I followed in his footsteps. I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie and being part of a team.”
During the school day White, 49, teaches five classes of Geometry and Algebra II. “I enjoy being in the classroom and interacting with students,” he said.
When White first took the job as athletic director he thought it would be a perfect combination of his two passions: sports and helping kids.
“At first I thought it would be a great way to watch all of the sports and stay involved while helping the school, but I quickly realized it’s a lot of deskwork and preventing fires,” he said. “I don’t get to watch as many sports as I’d like, but at the same time it’s rewarding in different ways and I get to work with some incredible coaches. They make the job much easier.”
White has high praise for assistant Vicki Seich. “She’s my right hand and does an amazing job,” he said. “If anyone deserves the award for keeping things running smoothly it’s her.”
White oversees all sport programs at Oak Ridge that happen after school hours, likening it to a principal overseeing teachers, but in his case coaches. During the football season, for instance, he clears every football player, manages field set up, fans, tickets, all administrative duties, etc.
Of his success, White said, “I try not to micromanage things and I give the coaches the freedom to do what they think is right for their programs.”
“Having worked with Steve closely over the last seven years and having been a part of other athletic departments, I must say Steve is one of the best in the state and truly deserves this honor,” said wrestling coach and science teacher Casey Rhyan. “As coaches, we are definitely blessed to have Steve as our AD.”
“As the longest running faculty member at Oak Ridge since 1981, we have had a few AD’s in my time,” said science teacher and boys’ varsity golf coach Stan Iverson. “Steve is definitely the ‘best of the best’ and working with him is always fun and interesting.”
Prior to teaching, White managed movie theatres before taking a job as an engineer . “I didn’t like being attached to a pager 24/7 or working nights and weekends,” he said. “So I made a switch to teaching and still find myself working weekends and nights, anyways, for less money,” he joked.
“But seriously, I couldn’t do this without the support of my wife, Rita (who works in Oak Ridge’s library),” he continued. “She’s been supportive of the late nights and travel, as has daughter Kayla, a senior at Oak Ridge.”
White earned both his undergraduate degree in mathematics and single subject credential from Cal State San Bernardino. He holds a master’s degree in physical education and recreation from St. Mary’s College.
“Steve’s skill as a teacher and athletic director, his professionalism, incredible work ethic and dedication to Oak Ridge excellence makes him an outstanding candidate for this recognition,” said Principal Paul Burke. “Steve clearly exemplifies what it means to be the best of the best.”
“I want to give thanks to all the coaches for doing a great job at Oak Ridge and for running great programs,” said White. “They may have singled me out but it’s really a collaborative effort to make things as successful at Oak Ridge as they are.”
White will be presented with a plaque at the California Athletic Director’s annual conference in San Diego this April.