Interim coach helps cross-country

When the North Alabama cross-country team needed a coach, Heath White stepped up to lead the Lions.

Scott Trimble resigned from the cross-country coach position in April 2017 of this year after 14 years on staff. White stepped up as the interim head coach for this season. White got his start with the Lions as a runner.

White came to UNA after transferring from a junior college as a cross-country runner. His journey as a coach started when White has the opportunity to coach at his alma mater.

White said his love for running helped him decide to coach cross-country.

“I have always loved helping people with running especially the ones coming up through the same program (at UNA) I did,” White said.

White said coaching is a rewarding task, but the credit should go to the runners.

“Helping someone achieve their potential and succeed is the best part of coaching,” White said. “It’s really all the individual’s hard work. I just like having a seat near the front row to see it.”

In White’s free time, he said he enjoys running to relieve stress. He also enjoys watching TV, playing video games and, when he has the chance, napping. He said free time does not come often with the busy schedule of coaching.

Sophomore Emma Knight and junior Justin Watson said Coach White is helping them with running, but he has other great qualities that set him apart as a coach.

Knight said White’s patience helps him be a great coach.

“Patience is by and large the most outstanding quality of Coach White,” Knight said  “At many points during this season, I have been frustrated because of a circumstance or a time that I thought would set me back, but he was constantly reminding me to trust the hard work and training that we had laid as a foundation for this season. His encouragement and constant reminder to be patient has allowed me to overcome much of the excess stress and anxiety that I place on myself and to run without holding back.”

Watson said White has the potential to create a special time for the Lions.

“I’d say his best quality is his passion in his work,” Watson said. “He’s not doing this for himself but for the bigger picture, the team and this university. I don’t know where UNA found him, but he’s the best coach anyone could find. Run the numbers, UNA cross-country will become a championship dynasty under this man.”

The men’s team finished in the top three of competition multiple times this season, including Watson, who finished first in the Stan Sims Invitational.

The women’s best team finished second at the Watson Ford Invitational Oct. 8.

With only one more meet this season, the Lions cross-country teams will finish the 2017 season this weekend.

White’s future with UNA is still yet to be decided, but for now, White is leading the UNA cross-country teams in the future.