White notches 400th career win

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton boys volleyball coach Ben White notched his 400th career win last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Ben White deflected the credit to others.

That’s what great leaders do.

But when word spread that White notched his 400th career win last week, several Middleton alumni quickly turned the acclaim back on the Cardinals’ ultra-successful boys’ volleyball coach.

“He was a joy to play for and be around and has impacted everyone that has come through the program in a positive way,” former Middleton standout Connor Zimmick said.

Thomas Robson, a first-team all-state libero in 2017, felt the same.

“He has a passion and a drive to make each and every kid that goes through that program better,” Robson said of White. “It is never a rebuilding year for him he always finds a way to light a fire under each grade to create this fight that allows the program to be one of the best in the state.”

White has certainly made the Cardinals one of the state’s elite programs.

In 18 years at MHS, White has compiled a 404-163-19 record (.689). Middleton is also 163-28 under White in Big Eight Conference play (.853).

White has led Middleton to nine state tournament appearances and 11 Big Eight titles. White has also been named the Big Eight’s Coach of the Year six times and won state coach of the year honors in both 2008 and 2016.

No. 400 came last Saturday during a win over Nicolet at the Whitefish Bay Invite, where the Cardinals finished second.

“It's an honor to reach 400 wins with these guys,” White said. “So many people have had a part in it and I'm very grateful for those that surround me. As Steve Jobs said, ‘It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.’

“My staff is as strong as ever and they keep developing student athletes that are prepared to play when they get to the varsity team. It makes me job pretty easy. As long as the bus gets to the right place and I turn in the right line-up, the players make the plays. We just try to give them the tools and skills to have success.

“I tell the players all the time, I may have a lot of wins but I have a lot of zeroes in the stat column. Zero kills, zero blocks, zero aces, zero digs. It's their job to fill the stat column and ‘W’ column. We're there for guidance.”

Middleton did a terrific job rolling up W’s at the Whitefish Bay Invite.

The Cardinals went 3-0 in pool play with wins over Nicolet, Milwaukee Pius and Fort Atkinson.

The Cardinals toppled Cedarburg in the quarterfinals, then toppled No. 2 Milwaukee Marquette, 25-20, 25-17 in the semifinals.

“This was probably our most dominant two sets of the year,” White said. “Parker Van Buren and Eagan Peters-Michaud were unstoppable on the outside. Great win for us.”

Germantown edged Middleton in the finals, 25-18, 20-25, 15-12. But the Cardinals’ run to the championship on a day where White picked up No. 400 was memorable for everyone in the program.

And those closest to White understood just what he’s meant to MHS volleyball.

“I had the privilege to play for coach for three years and be his assistant for three years as well and what makes him a great coach is the preparation and detail he puts into practices, scouting, and setting lineups,” Zimmick said. “Coach White is always prepared which allows him to make in game adjustments that has led to many of his 400 wins.”

Robson agreed.

“I think there are many things obviously that make him an amazing coach, but for me personally it is how much he cares about each and every player,” said Thomas Robson, who now plays for Quincy University. “I have been playing volleyball since I was 10 years old and I can say that I have never had a coach like him. The way he takes the time to make that bond between each and every player is incredible.”

Afterwards, the modest and humble White tried deflecting credit to others. But many understand that the success of Middleton’s boys volleyball program can largely be traced to White’s tenure as coach.

“I have been blessed with great players, assistant coaches and unbelievable support from family at home,” White said. “I am most proud of the culture we have created in our boys volleyball program. We've received recognition from the WIAA for our sportsmanship 5 times in the last 10 years.

“Our upperclassmen take pride in teaching the younger players the game and the standards we set. Our alumni are constantly checking in on our program to see how we are doing. Once you go through the program you are always part of the program. 

“I know I'm closer to the sunset of my career than I am to the sunrise. I don't know when the sun will set, but I know it's been a heck of a run and I'm grateful for all the opportunities I have received.”

 

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