Stephanie White was the perfect fit to coach the Indiana Fever. After all, the Indiana native has virtually spent her whole life in the Hoosier state.
White was officially announced as the team's new coach Tuesday, taking over for Lin Dunn, who retired after the team was eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals. White was a former Indiana Miss Basketball and then went on to help Purdue win a national championship in 1999. She was on the original Fever team and spent the last four years as an assistant for the franchise.
''I'm so glad that it is happening in this state. I'm so glad that it is happening with this franchise. To play at every level in my home state and now to be the head coach of the pro team is a pretty surreal moment,'' White said in a phone interview Tuesday night. ''I'm just realizing how humbling and special this moment is.''
As she was walking into her introductory press conference Tuesday, she saw a photo of the opening of the arena where the Fever play their home games. In that photo were other Indiana legends Larry Bird, John Wooden and Oscar Robertson.
''I've definitely come full circle,'' White said. ''I felt that way when we won the championship. I was part of the first team and part of the first championship. I'm the first coach to play for that franchise, it's really pretty unbelievable.''
She was announced as the coach in waiting this past spring after spending the last four years as an assistant and associate head coach.
''The things we do aren't going to change,'' White said of the Fever. ''I'm a little more offensive minded and I think we'll try to push the ball a little more. But our identity will stay the same. It's the same identity we've had since (Tamika) Catchings stepped foot in our field house.''
Besides coaching, White still plans to broadcast games in the winter for ESPN and the Big Ten network. Not exactly what she had planned to do growing up.
''Even when I started college there was no WNBA. I thought I was going to have to get a real job, I didn't know what I was going to do,'' White said. ''My ultimate dream was to be an astronaut.''
While she never was able to make it into space, White now has achieved her new dream.
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