New Valley girls hoops coach aims to nurse program back to health
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mindy White is a registered nurse at UPMC Shadyside.
The new Valley girls basketball coach will need to request time off soon so she can attend games and practices this winter. That means she'll likely have to peruse the team's schedule before she even meets her players.
The former Mindy Beale, a Highlands graduate, will be curious about when the Vikings play her alma mater, but she'll highlight other games first.
“I'm already thinking about the Mars and Hamptons of the section,” said White, a 2003 Highlands grad who also played point guard at La Roche. “I see all walks of life where I work. There are surgeons who make seven figures, down to people who don't even have health insurance.
“I know coaching here is a difficult challenge, but I feel I am up for it.”
Valley has combated questionable dedication among players the past several years. Low roster numbers led to four forfeits last season.
Still, the team has remained competitive, winning four games in each of the last two seasons while going 8-15 in 2011 and making the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs with a lineup that sometimes played with three or four girls — no exaggeration.
Valley hasn't had a winning season since 2002-03.
Frustrated by the low numbers and apparent lack of changes ahead, Jeff Cheatham resigned in February after four seasons.
White, 28, who lives in Upper Burrell — just up the hill from Valley — saw an opportunity. Her only high school coaching experience came last season when she served as an assistant at Highlands.
“There's talent there,” White said. “(Valley) beat us last year, and they beat Kittanning and Knoch. When I played, Valley had players like Marisa Smith and Gerria Ballard; Valley was the top team in the section. Those girls were not only good athletes, but they were extremely intelligent and great students.
“Valley has had success in the past, I just think over the years girls sports sometimes fall through the cracks. Look at the girls soccer team. They are starting to pick up, and they credit (youth leagues).
“We need to give our girls an opportunity to play outside of school so they can stay interested.”
White coached some Highlands girls in a local summer league and worked alongside Deer Lakes coach Dana Petruska, one of the most revered coaches in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“She had some of her girls help us out,” White said. “You can learn a lot from a coach like her.”
Like Petruska, who's as much about discipline as she is Xs and Os, White plans to enforce her guidelines.
She also hopes to draw on experience gained while playing for coach Eddie Benton at La Roche.
“I am a very busy person and don't have time to waste,” she said. “We're going to be disciplined. And we're going to be conditioned.
“I am not there to make friends; I am there to coach and teach life lessons.”
White knows bringing interest back to the program will require support from the school and community.
“Hopefully we can revitalize the program,” New Kensington-Arnold superintendent John Pallone said.
White said new Valley boys coach Mark Faulx is allowing girls players to come to his open gyms.
“That's nice of him to do,” White said. “The main thing now is to get the girls in the gym. I am looking forward to meeting them and getting things under way.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school roundup: WPIAL coaches reach milestone victories
- Mars girls basketball team goes on defensive
- Gorman: Two good friends coach for milestone win
- Late run seals WPIAL playoff berth for Highlands
- Health the key to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic girls’ season
- Monessen cruises to 63-point win over West Greene
- HS highlight reel: PIAA approves Clairton sanctions
- Sporio leads EF past Ringgold, 48-41
- Valley Independent roundup: Brownsville downs Charleroi
- Ford City defeats South Allegheny, clinches playoff spot
- High school basketball notebook: Playoff picture comes into focus