New TCC Coach Likes to Win
By St. Claire Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Mark White is still getting settled in two weeks after being hired as the new men’s basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College.
The shelves behind his desk are still missing the essentials – like a photo of his kids. His mission is clear, though. The guy likes to win.
And, obvious by the six cased rings on his desk, he knows how. There are four rings for taking the last school he coached to postseason play. The other two were won during his five seasons as an assistant at Mississippi State University.
White, 51, comes to TCC from East Mississippi Community College, replacing Eddie Barnes who didn’t do too badly himself during his 14 seasons at TCC.
Barnes took the Eagles to the national junior college championship tournament twice. It wasn’t easy.
Getting that far never is a cakewalk. White knows that from playing the Eagles in recent years while at East Mississippi. Even before that he had a taste of the challenge ahead of him. He was an assistant with North Idaho College when the Coyotes faced TCC in a record-setting game at the national tournament in 1997. Both teams combined for 237 points, a tournament game record that still stands.
Perhaps that’s why when White was asked during his job interview what he anticipates as his greatest challenge, he had a simple response.
“The conference,” he said. “The conference would be my greatest challenge. The whole league is so good. We have to have really good players to compete.”
Then, there is the longtime rivalry with Chipola College.
Coach. Get ready for some good, old-fashioned smash-mouth basketball.
White believes he could build a team that could add more drama to the rivalry, though.
It’s hard to doubt him. Just look where he came from. East Mississippi is in the middle of nowhere. The school is the biggest thing there.
Still, White managed to recruit players talented enough to win those rings on his desk.
His recruiting pitch was simply academics. It obviously worked every time and, after two losing seasons, he turned around a program that had won fewer than 10 games in two years prior to his arrival.
Parents liked what he promised them.
“We are going to do everything that we possibly can to get your son graduated with his two-year degree,” he said.
He’s made the same promise at TCC and he’s giving himself time to see it work. He hopes it takes him to the end of his career.
Being at TCC isn’t a steppingstone stop and he wants to be there longer than Barnes’ 14 years.
“Life is not a destination it’s a journey,” White said. “I want Tallahassee to be my destination.
“I want to be like Eddie was. I look at coming here and staying until I retire. That’s what I envision.”
And winning a few more rings, too.