White leaves Alaska for college ranks (Basketball)
After carving out one of the longest and most successful high school coaching careers of all-time, legendary Anchorage basketball figure Chuck White is finally going to college.
White, of East High fame, has resigned from his post at West High to take an assistant coaching position at NCAA Division II Adams State in Colorado, where he will reunite with one of his former players, Louis Wilson, who took over the college program in March.
White, 68, leaves behind a high school legacy that stretched 45 seasons and included 18 Alaska state championships and 921 career victories at East, Eisenhower (Wash.) and West. He guided the Eagles to the ASAA state title just last month, his fourth at the school in his seven years.
Wilson, who played for White from 1979 to 1983 and coached with him from 1988 to 1992, said White had the biggest influence in his life next to his mother.
“In terms of my development as a person, as a father and as coach, he’s been the most impactful person in my life,” Wilson told me. “The reason I coach is because I watched him coach and I decided that’s what I want to be. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way. He still has a lot to offer in terms of his coaching. With him coming with me I literally feel like I’m going to take the test and I get to bring the tutor.
“There’s not a recruit I could sign that could make me happier because it’s a great day for Adams State basketball. Our AD feels the same way. This is a guy who has so much to offer. The first thing I told my kids when I was first hired here was that we were going to build a championship culture. Well, nobody that I know in basketball symbolizes that mindset and that principal more. He put Alaska basketball on the map as far as I’m concerned.”
Wilson introduced White to his Adams State team today during a meeting in the weight room. Among the players in attendance was Anchorage freshman Colton Lauwers, a former Alaska Player of the Year from Dimond High who grew up playing against White’s teams.
“When I told the team this morning, I said. ‘Maybe me and Colton are the only two that fully understand right now what this means,’ ” Wilson said. “I looked at him and Colton smiled and nodded his head at me. It’s a phenomenal deal.”
White began his coaching career at East as a raw 23-year-old in 1965. Five years later he won his first state title and the rest, as they say, was history. He went on to become arguably the most polarizing figure in Alaska sports history because he was so successful and so controversial.
“Most of us loved him, but a lot of people loved to hate him,” Wilson said. “In sports that’s important because you have to have a nemesis. I don’t think those people hate him with their true heart. But I think you have to have that in sports. That’s what makes sports unique.
“Now when you remove all that … the base of his life is a man who’s a teacher, and some of us have been incredibly blessed to play for him and to learn from him. Some people don’t know him, so he’s misunderstood and he’d be the first to say that he probably could have done some things differently so people would have a better understanding of who he was and what he was trying to accomplish.”
Through the years White has coached some of Alaska’s greatest players such as Muff Butler (New Orleans), Trajan Langdon (Duke), Andre Laws (San Diego) and Ramon Harris (Kentucky). There were hundreds of more players that become professionals in the real world.
White has been in the game so long that he coached the sons of former players and even the grandson of one past player.
“The dude started coaching high school basketball in the middle of the Civil Rights movement—and he’s still coaching,” Wilson said. “Think about how the world has changed since he started coaching.
“You can take everything negative that anyone has said and in my opinion, the ultimate thing of his career is that he ended it with a championship and now he’s going be an assistant coach for somebody he literally taught the game to. It validates what he’s always taught us, that he’d be there for us no matter what.
“And if you can’t understand how deep that is then you have no heart.”