Monday, March 12, 2018

My friend Johnny: The Guy I'm always Chasing

We lost on March 2, 2018. Losing sucks. That part isn't going away. But when you lose to a guy you respect and you're always chasing it makes it a little easier. My friend Johnny Rice is the Head Boys Coach at North Little Rock High School. That's who ended our season this year. What he has been able to do in 6 years is amazing. He has turned his alma mater into a national powerhouse.

I sat court side this December and watched his unranked team beat a top 10 program in a holiday tournament. I was in the opposite coaching box and watched his team execute on both ends of the floor. There are a couple things I always think of when I think of Johnny.

Here are 3 of those....

#1 He Can Coach and Build Talent
There are a lot of Coaches that inherit talent and hope to not mess it up. There are Coaches with talent that do that. I see it every year. Coach Rice not only coaches Talent but he develops Players. I always smile when a summer coach or rankings "discover" a kid from NLR. That kid didn't just show up because you heard about him, he's been in the gym with Coach Rice and his staff developing. Players get better playing for him.

#2 He turns Boys into Young Men
I have yet to meet a young man that played for Coach Rice that wasn't what you would expect. In today's day where disrespect is rampant, the young men in his program are far from that. Sure, they are still boys at heart and might make a bone-head mistake time to time but they are ambassadors for his program and an extension of Coach Rice. The night we played them they were gracious, excited but understanding that they just ended a team's season.

#3 Integrity
Success attracts. Plain and simple. Coach Rice does things the right way. In 2014, our team lost to Coach Rice in the state finals 89-81. Months later, it was discovered an ineligible player played and NLR was forced to vacate that title.  MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: They won the state title. Coach Rice had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding the player. I hurt for my friend that day because I know he is in the business for the right reason: Changing lives.

Coach Rice has won state titles in 2013,2014,2015 and 2018. He lost in the finals in 2017.
Last Friday, I shared a text with him after the game. My sons got to play together in that game and he acknowledged it and the fight our program showed. I told him I appreciate his impact on me and for being the guy I'll always chase; not just because he's one of the top Coaches I know, but he's also a man you can pattern your life after.

So until next season, I'm still chasing you my friend, just like the rest of the state.

Follow Coach Rice on twitter at @johnnyrice22

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What I learned from Coaching my Son

My first job is as a Father. That's the most important thing I am doing right now. Coaching is what I do, it isn't who I am....for the most part.

 I am at every game, every event and trying to model what being a Father encompasses. My oldest son Hayden is a senior and we just finished up our season. My youngest son Evan is a freshman so I'll have part two to this blog in a few years.

This year I had two firsts. I had a Senior night as a Coach/Father and I also gave that last game speech in the same roles. Senior night is a touchy topic for some because we preach "Team First" all year then one night we change how we do things to honor Individuals. If you're interested in how we do our senior night you can email me at

Every season ends with tears for every team but one. That's the brutal truth about athletics. The finality. There are two things you don't get back up from: Death & your last game as a Senior. I told my Seniors I hoped that today (3/2/18) was the worst day of their lives...because that meant they were going to live really blessed lives.

Coaching your child is challenging but rewarding. I feel like I do a good job of separating the two roles. I have a "Stop sign rule". I stop being Coach White at the Stop sign and I'm Dad to them off campus. Now, if they bring up basketball all bets are off and they know that.

Here are the three things I learned this season about Coaching my Son.

1. He isn't Perfect
Looking back, Hayden took a lot of "cussing and discussing" throughout his career that wasn't his fault. Mainly, because he has an extremely high basketball IQ so I expected him to never make a mistake. The positive side of that was it allowed me to coach our teams harder because they saw how I coached him. The negative was he had a shorter leash than most players. If I could go back and change things I wouldn't be as hard on him.

2. He has to live with the last name
2 years ago we made the decision to change jobs. We were moving to a larger classification. Hayden was giving up the chance to play a major role for 2 seasons to be a smaller part of a bigger picture. The unfair thing for your child in this profession is he is always "the Coach's kid" just like you are always "Coach ____".   I've said before, the only professions that you can't hide from are Coach, Pastor, Doctor and President. Why does everyone expect the Coach's kid to be a star because their Parent is the Coach? Do you expect a Surgeon's child to be able to perform surgery just because of their parent?

Hayden was a good, smart player. He likes basketball. He doesn't love it and that's okay. We both knew going in what that meant. The pressure the Coach's kid is under isn't fair.

3. He knows I love him away from the game
It is so sad for me to watch parents in the crowd. I'm convinced that most of the problems in today's game are caused by the pride of parents. I'm proud of Hayden regardless of points per game, minutes played or anything game related. I enjoy watching him have success in the game but what he has learned from the game is what I am the most proud of.

He's unselfish. He gave up a lot for our family to make a move.
He's a servant. He understands that is how you lead.
He's trustworthy. He knows the boundaries and never crosses them.

I'm hoping that in 3 years I'm able to take the lessons learned from coaching one Son and make the experience better for the second one.