After an All-American playing career (Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon; Purdue; and the WNBA, including four years with the Fever), Stephanie White, a four-year Fever assistant, took over as head coach last fall. Her inaugural season tips off in Chicago on June 5 and at home against Minnesota on June 6.
1. White dreamed of being an astronaut. But in high school, she realized the commitment a space career would require, and she chose jump shots over spacewalks.
2. The biggest thing White learned from her predecessor and mentor, Lin Dunn: the importance of preparation. “She prepares more in-depth than anybody I’ve ever been around,” White says. “If we’re talking about a play on offense, she wants to know your first option, your second option, your third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.”
3. At 37, White is the youngest head coach in the WNBA. But after being a player and an assistant for so long, she says, “I feel like I’m ancient in terms of basketball years.”
4. White is the coach, but veteran Fever star Tamika Catchings is the unquestioned leader among the players. And Catchings is still the team’s hardest worker, even in her 14th season. “There is no prima donna question about whether she’s going to practice, whether she’s going to play,” White says. “We almost have to restrict her because she will not restrict herself.”
5. White has a dedicated squad. She gets to Bankers Life Fieldhouse between 7 and 8 a.m. on most days, and players are already shooting or getting treatment—the start of eight to 10 hours of practice, film sessions, and workouts. They’re involved off the court, too, including making calls to season-ticketholders about renewals (something the Pacers don’t do).
6. Basketball is a year-round career for the Fever squad—and for the new coach. Most players spend the offseason earning money by playing abroad, while White is a women’s-hoops analyst on the Big Ten Network and ESPN. She also does Pacers pregame and postgame shows.
7. White’s personal workout is intense—it’s called Insanity Max:30—and so are her Fever drills, which usually have a winner and a loser. The message, she says, is that “every detail of every moment of every possession is important.”
8. White has a 3-year-old and 22-month-old twins. Her oldest is starting to get into the game, and when he and White shoot hoops in their basement, he knows whom to ask for a play. “He’ll come over to me and be like, ‘Okay, Coach, tell me what we’re going to do,’” she says.
9. White feels ready for anything, so don’t expect her to get nervous before this year’s first game. “The true test for me is going to be in that first pressure situation, the first end-of-game decision,” she says. “But those are things I love.”
The Fever’s home season-opener is June 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tickets are $21 to $100.