David White, the new head football coach at Blue Springs High School, knows you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.
He did it during the interview process when he was selected from an elite group of nominees to replace longtime head coach Kelly Donohoe, who won 191 games over the past two decades with the Wildcats.
And White did it again Monday – at least with senior wide receiver Isaac Harkness – as he conducted his first practice with the team on the sweltering turf at Peve Stadium.
“He made a connection with the guys today,” Harkness said, following a by-the-book session that featured the offensive and defensive linemen; the running backs and linebackers; and the skill players, which included Harkness, in three separate sessions.
“I really like Coach White. I met him back in February when he visited our school and you could tell that he’s going to be a players’ coach. He likes the guys and he loves what he’s doing. And you could tell it again today.
“There wasn’t a minute we were out here on the field that we weren’t in our groups working hard. It was great.”
Coming from Mississippi, where he coached at Ridgeland High School one year, one might expect the new coach to be accustomed to a Missouri summer.
“This is a different heat,” he said. “It kind of lays on you, like you’re carrying someone. That’s one big reason I’m so proud of all our guys today. They worked hard and we got a lot done. We’ve all been looking forward to this first practice session and we got a lot of good work in.”
White said it would be awhile before he and his staff get into the Xs and Os with his players.
“Today is the first day, this is the new normal – for now – and I wanted the guys to get excited about football again,” said White, who won three conference championships from 2003-06 at Las Vegas-area power Bishop Gorman High School before he became a graduate assistant and assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma. “There’s been a lot of anxiety, wondering what’s going on with the COVID-19, would we be allowed back on the field, heck, are we going to have school or a season this fall?
“That’s why I wanted today to be a day to get in some good work, to meet the new coach and let them know what we expect from them during this training period.”