Birmingham Groves boys basketball coach Benny White breaks a huddle with his players Dec. 14 at Birmingham Seaholm. White is in his first year leading the Falcons.

Birmingham Groves boys basketball coach Benny White breaks a huddle with his players Dec. 14 at Birmingham Seaholm. White is in his first year leading the Falcons.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Benny White leading Groves in first season

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 18, 2018


BIRMINGHAM — Benny White has seen his share of coaching positions since graduating from Michigan State University in 1977. White worked as a graduate assistant at Michigan State during Jud Heathcote’s first year. From there, he moved around with stops at Wayne State University and Albion College.

He got his first head coaching gig in 1995 at Detroit Martin Luther King, where he coached for 15 years. While there, the coach boasted a 201-89 record.

When his tenure with the Crusaders ended, White moved to Eastern Michigan University, where he was an assistant for six years. Due to the nature of the coaching business, White was eventually let go from his role, which he looked at as a blessing in disguise.

“It was the best thing for me,” he said. “It gave me a chance to take a timeout, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It gave me a chance to take a deep breath and spend some time with my family, which I had been doing, but not with any consistency.”

White would only take a year off before being named the head coach at Birmingham Groves in early July. During his year off, White was able to spend time with his family that includes a 5-year-old son and an 18-year-old son, B. Artis White, who plays basketball at Canton High.

White went to every Canton basketball game last year, so he thought his son would be OK when White decided to return to coaching.

“I ran it by him and he said, ‘Of course, Dad.’ We’ve been close, but with that year of spending every day together, he was ready for me to get a little space anyway,” White said with a laugh.

Now after a small handful of games on the sidelines, White said he feels at home inside the walls of Groves.

“I see my purpose here,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to do what I love to do and have the chance to be in some young people’s lives and hopefully bring about some change.”

At press time, the Falcons were 3-2 on the season, with their most recent win coming against Birmingham Seaholm Dec. 14.

Most coaches face an adaptive period in their first year in a new job. With players having to learn about the coach and vice versa, it often takes time for the two parties to get used to one another. White followed suit in this scenario.

“I’m still adapting,” he said. “I can still critique myself and look at things I know I needed to do or should have done. Knowing how to use my timeouts and just the flow of the game again. It’s coming though. Some days I think I’m there, and then some things will show me I’m not quite there yet.”

On the player end of things, there were some issues as late summer workouts turned into early season games. White said he was unable to get a consistent group of players to work out together, and as a result, there were fewer chances to build chemistry.

However, as the season plays out, the coach said his team is starting to show improvement, which is ultimately what every coach wants to see.

“They’re starting to understand that there’s commitment, and they’re stepping into it,” White said. “I know they can genuinely see that I care about them, I love them and I want what’s best for them.”

White hopes the improvement will continue all the way through the season, so the team is playing its best basketball when it matters most. If that is done, the team could capture one of the only goals White has for the team.

“My only goal is to be playing at the end of March and get to East Lansing. That’s the basketball goal,” the coach said.

“For me right now, it’s about getting better, playing harder and enjoying the experience,” White continued. “The wins will take care of themselves if you can learn how to do that.”