By: Emily Jones
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tony Joe White is Birmingham-Southern College's newest football head coach. His engaging personality and competitive drive are just some of the qualities that make him a successful coach.
Although named after a singer-songwriter, this Greenville, Texas native grew up around sports. From a young age, he played baseball, basketball, and football. When asked why he chose to stick with football he said, "I was always one season to the next. And when I graduated from high school, the next season after baseball was always football, so I just went with football."
With his dad as the head coach of his high school team, White fondly remembers his favorite childhood memory of playing the No. 3 team in the state his junior year.
"We were very, very big underdogs in the game," White said. "The score was close and on the last play of the third quarter, I threw a touchdown pass. Everyone was celebrating, the stadium was going crazy, and the other side was completely stunned."
After the play, the video kept running and captured White celebrating with his dad.
"I turned around and saw my dad standing there with his hand stuck out to shake my hand," he explained. "I popped his hand, and having that moment on video is something I will be able to remember for all time."
White went on to be a three-year quarterback at Texas A&M University-Commerce from 1991-93. After college, he got his first full-time job in 1998 as the quarterback coach at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
"It wasn't always football, but I knew I wanted to coach," said White.
Recalling a time when his dad asked him into a room when the University of Tennessee and University of Arkansas were about to play, White said "just the pageantry, passion and energy of them taking the field, and of college football, was an atmosphere I wanted to be a part of. To be able to now have my own college football team is a lot of fun."
White is a big family man. He, and his wife Meredith, now have two children, Emily and Tucker Joe. Emily is a freshman in high school, and Tucker Joe is 10 years old. He said one of his proudest accomplishments are his two kids, adding "getting to be their dad, there is nothing that compares to that." One of the White family traditions during the Christmas holiday is to take a two-mile hike through the wildlife preserve just outside of Danville.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "Just getting out there and being away from everything, and hanging out together."
Something people might not know about him is that he's a huge baseball junky. His favorite Major League Baseball team is the Texas Rangers and he loves the nostalgia and history of the game.
"There was a time in the 80's when I could tell you every starting line up and batting order for every major league team," said White. He stopped playing baseball after high school, but says he still gets in the occasional softball tournament.
Other hidden talents include juggling, whistling, and inventing fantasy sports. He joked that he doesn't get credit for inventing fantasy sports, but he also has a great jump shot.
Biggest pet peeve?
Outside of sports, what's your favorite thing to watch on TV?
The West Wing
What's on the top of your bucket list?
To jump out of an airplane
Favorite room in your house?
One thing you couldn't go a day without?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Last book you read?