Midlothian’s Football Coach Inspires Others
It takes a special spirit to be a coach. And sometimes the greatest coaching comes when victory is nowhere to be found.
When a team is trailing 42-0 at the half but continues to fight valiantly in the final two quarters, that is a reflection on the character of the players and the coach. They all know it will take nothing short of a miracle to win, but the other option – giving up – just isn’t in them.
Midlothian Panthers assistant football coach Clif White was such a coach. Knowing he was fighting an uphill battle with a rare form of bladder cancer diagnosed in May, he continued to show up to work with an oxygen tank and in a wheelchair.
His body might have been on the decline, but he insisted on spending his final days doing what he loved and what he was called to do, lead young men. And lead them he did, not only playing a key role in their 7-0 record at the time of his death (they’re 9-0 now), but also showing them that defeat and losing are two entirely different things.
Coach White came up short against cancer, but he did not lose. And on his way out of this world he did what all great coaches do, he inspired others.
“Coach White had a passion for football, faith and Family. He gave his all in everything that he did and it was our students, athletes and community that reaped the benefits. He will be missed and remembered by all who had the opportunity to get know him”, said Todd Hemphill.
“Coach White has always been an indispensable part of our program. He was loved and admired by the entire team and staff. His grit, resilience, and fight during his six-month battle inspired not only our football team, but Midlothian High School and the entire community,” Panthers head coach Doug Wendel said.
“His love of life and his servanthood was a great testimony of how to live right! His spirit will live on forever at MHS!”
Coach White was only 37 years old. So much in front of him still. Sadly, cancer does not care about age.
However, when you spend your life influencing others as White did, you can do a lot in 37 years.
“My granddaughter had Coach White (as a teacher). He was her favorite,” posted Denise Gibbons on Facebook.
A Legacy of Impact
Patti Ramsden used the social media platform to make a plea to nominate Coach White for the Midlothian ISD Hall of Honor. I second such a request for the same reasons she cited.
“He leaves behind an incredible legacy of impact on all who knew him,” she wrote.
“Coach White was someone who spent time with players and people. He would call a softball or football player in for one-on-ones. Not just talking about their athletics but the person. He could see what made someone special and amplify it, always had time for a word or joke. Always had a smile. When he looked at his wife from the outside you could see he was all in. Loved his kids and relished in their accomplishments. He was well-known for his chicken parm sandwich. He took his responsibilities serious, but not himself. He was a renaissance man. He cared, and he made a difference”, said Tater Beard.
Admittedly, I did not know Coach White personally. But he inspired me nonetheless. If I am ever in a situation like he faced, I hope I can show as much courage and fortitude as he did. I hope I, too, could look death in the face and say, “I know you’re going to catch me, but I’m going to make you run harder than you ever thought possible to do so.”
The Grim Reaper was sweating profusely after he finally caught up to Coach White.
We come into this world having no choice but to eventually make that venture into the great beyond. As proven with Coach White, sometimes that is sooner than it perhaps should be, reinforcing the belief that we should pack all the living we can into every single day, every hour, every minute.
We all die. It is how we go that determines the way we will be remembered by those yet to take that journey. Did we make a difference? Did we do all we could to improve the lives of others? Did we look for happiness and positivity to replace darkness?
Coach White did these things. You never even had to meet him to realize he checked all these boxes. It’s evident in those who loved him and remember him.
The Panthers Are Looking To Continue The Fight
A storybook ending to the season would be the Panthers going on to win a state championship in honor of their late coach. They are certainly talented enough that they will contend, but there are some other really good football teams they will have to go through to make that happen.
But, with all due respect to all other coaches, the one with the most fight in him has left the field and will be watching the rest of the way.
If you’d like to help the White family, here is a link to a gofundme account https://gofund.me/a3fc0915