Marymount College’s new athletic director, Gary White, understands what it takes to develop successful sports programs, especially the character-driven kind that is required of schools in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). White developed athletic programs at small colleges in Missouri and Illinois and earned seven NAIA national titles along the way. After relocating to Marymount last summer, he has been diligently laying the groundwork for a comprehensive athletic program at the College.
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Born and raised in Ohio, the seasoned athletic director has a manner that is friendly, straightforward, and expeditious. White has always coached at NAIA schools. Most recently, he was at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois where he began their cross-country and track and field programs, as well as McKendree’s intercollegiate bowling program, a first for a midwest school. Last year, his women's team won the inaugural NAIA Bowling National Title. Before then, White led his track and field teams to six NAIA national titles, four of them consecutive indoor titles for his women’s team.
These are exciting times as Marymount’s athletic identity comes into being. Marymount joined the NAIA in February 2010 as it was transitioning into a four-year institution. In January, Marymount joined NAIA’s California Pacific Conference, or “Cal Pac”. This particular conference is mostly California schools and one in which Marymount is already competitive with its soccer program. “With these [NAIA] schools, the student-athlete is the focus,” said White. “Note the word student comes first.”
With the cross-country program due this fall, White will also coach the men’s and women’s teams. “We are finding that recruits are excited to be part of the first team,” he said. In the spring of 2013, the golf and track programs will begin, with White coaching the latter. At that time, there will be four NAIA sports and a total of eight varsity programs at Marymount, with men’s and women’s teams counting as two sports. (The NAIA requires Marymount to have six sports by 2015 so the College is well ahead of schedule.)
So, besides the great weather, why head west? White also looked to California because his son lives in Whittier with his family; White and his wife, Margaret, wanted to be nearby.
As Marymount’s new athletic director, Gary White wears many hats and takes it in stride. He is well-prepared to do what he loves to do – develop athletic programs. “I’ve got the joy of knowing I have seven national championships under my belt,” he said. “One more would be nice, but it’s not the focus.” The reality of his job includes working with students wanting to transfer in or out, working with the NAIA on all reports for athletics, developing athletic budgets, and hiring new coaches. There’s also dealing with injuries and tracking athletes’ academic progress. But it’s “par for the course” given White’s history - “It’s been a challenge and a lot of fun,” he said.