Larry White spoke over the noise of a new roof being prepared at Macon County High School’s gym on Monday during his retirement news conference. Fittingly, he was one who pressed for the leaky roof to be replaced.
White, who brought a state championship to the girls basketball program in 2020-21, firmed up the program’s already-solid foundation and took it to new heights as well in his seven-year tenure, which included a five-year stretch he dubbed “ Five Years of Glory,” which included a record of 143-30, a state championship, five state tournament appearances, five sub-state champions, three region champions and two district tournament champions.
“I’ve known coach White 50 years, I guess,” said MCHS athletics director Beverly Shoulders. “I’ve watched him be successful at every coaching job he has encountered, but what he has been able to do here at Macon County High School — yes, he’s been very fortunate — we’ve had a lot of talent to come through in the last five, six, seven years — but he has developed those young ladies into high school champions. Macon County High School is very, very thankful for everything that he’s done for our program, helping put Macon County girls’ basketball on the map.”
White coached Keeley Carter, the 2019-20 Miss Basketball and Jalynn Gregory, a finalist for Miss Basketball, along with fellow all-stater Abby Shoulders and many other stellar players.
Last season’s team struggled with youth in the wake of graduation losses from the state tournament championship squad. White says, though, that the program will rise again to be among the best. This summer’s basketball camp drew a record 70 campers, and White said talent is there. “I promise you Macon County High School’s basketball is great,” he said. “I think that the success will start again,” and he promised to help any way he can.
White lauded the emotional investment of the MCHS student fanbase, “Macon’s Mob,” and the support of the community, both financially and as loyal fans, as memories he will cherish and appreciate. He alluded to the $17,000 raised in the community for a trip to play in the Nike Tournament of Champions.
The program was strong when he arrived. He made it stronger, clearly, and he credited coaches before him for solidifying MCHS girls’ basketball as a state powerhouse. White recalled successes — firsts — in knocking off other powers MCHS had never beaten on the road before.
“We were just so fortunate,” he said. “For example, we went to McMinn Central, they’d won 60 consecutive home games. They had never lost a sub-state game, and when we got to their gym that night, they called it the roundhouse, my assistants were with me, and I said ‘you know there’s 18 in our party here tonight, and we’re the only people in this gym who think we’re going to win tonight.’ And we did win, rather convincingly.
“I think the No. 1 thing we had was we were a team. We stayed together as a team.”
During his news conference, he also remembered those who helped him along his career, including the administration at MCHS, his family and his former players.
“I would like to thank the people who first hired me seven years ago,” he said. “(Former principal Stephanie) Meador, Tracy Strong was the athletics director, former coach (Gary Carter) was also in on the interview process. They hired me on the spot. Mr. (Tony) Boles (director of schools), he was the one I have the most to be thankful for,” but he later added that “I could not have had the success had I not had the players that I had.”
Principal Daniel Cook, who assumed his current role at MCHS last year, said White “has been able to lead our program to unprecedented success. We’re so grateful to him for his time, he has chosen to wrap things up as girls’ basketball coach. I want everyone to be aware that this is on Coach White’s own terms.”