Bre White: The journey of a champion
Bre White takes the ball from the referee. She lines up her shot, making sure it is at precisely the right angle.
She is not thinking. There is no crowd. There is no noise. It is just her, the goalie and the official. She is relying on muscle memory.
She pulls her stick back, makes contact with the ball and follows through. The ball sails through the air, chips the goalie’s glove and lands in the back of the cage. It takes a split second and then she realizes what just happened. She leaps into the air and forgets where she is and tosses her stick. Then she collapses out of sheer joy.
She did it. The team did it. Finally. The Shippensburg University field hockey team just won the NCAA Championship.
For somebody who did not begin her field hockey career until her sophomore year of high school, White has done big things at SU. She has been to the NCAA tournament four times, two of which were the title match.
As a freshman, she started the 2010 NCAA Championship game. The Raiders lost that game 1–0 to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. SU returned to the tournament White’s sophomore and junior years, but made it only to the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. So, when SU got a first-round bye and was playing Millersville University—the team that stole its perfect season and conference title—it knew the title was within reach.
Dominating the Marauders in a 3–1 thrashing, the only team that stood in the way of the Raiders and the coveted NCAA trophy was LIU Post.
“Going into the championship, we were confident, but not overly confident,” White said. “We knew what we had to do and how to get it done because we wanted it so bad.”
LIU Post came into the game undefeated. Its top scorer had more goals than SU’s Top 2 combined. However, the Pioneers’ scoring domination stops with their No. 2 scorer; the Raiders’ does not.
The Raiders have 14 people who have scored this season, four them are in double-digits and seven have two or more goals. Being part of a balanced team is part of where White credits her success.
SU Director of Athletics Jeff Michaels recalled a post-game interview with White after that semifinal game. Michaels said she kept saying that the team got her the ball and the team set her up for the shot. She never took the credit for herself.
Head coach Bertie Landes also commented on White’s selfless play and leadership ability.
“She never was a selfish player, she always wanted to give others the benefit,” Landes said. “She has looked for ways to make her teammates play better.”
White’s team-first mindset is evident in her skills. She is ranked No. 11 in Division II in assists per game, also a team-high. Despite her selfless attitude, she is also the No. 14-goal scorer in Division II with 15 on the year.
“My goal since I came to Shippensburg was to win a championship, whether it is a PSAC championship or a national championship, and that was just my goal,” White said. “Every year I worked hard to achieve as much as I could.”
Reaching the NCAA tournament all four years of her career, White had multiple opportunities to reach her goal, which probably came from Landes when she was recruited.
“When I recruited Bre, one of the things we talked about was, ‘We’re going to win a national championship in the four years that you’re here. We’re going to win a national championship,’” Landes said.
During White’s freshman year, both of their goals nearly came true. But, fate would have its way and wait until White’s last chance to reach her goal.
“She’s gotten better technically, with her skill,” Landes said. “I think she’s become a leader. She’s the type of player who led by example, but she found out this year that she had to lead verbally and vocally. She just stepped out of her realm and did things this year that, as a senior, you have to be able to do to be successful.”
As a freshman, White had 16 goals and 10 assists. In her sophomore season she had 19 goals and 15 assists, her best season. Junior year she tallied 17 goals and nine assists.
Winning the national championship is just one accomplishment on a long list of accolades for White. Additionally to the national championship, she was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team. She earned the honor in 2012 and 2010 as well. White earned the NCAA Division II Field Hockey Player of the Year award in both 2013 and 2012. White also was named the NFHCA Division South Region Player of the Year in 2013 and 2012. She also led seven of her teammates on the Synapse Sports Division II Field Hockey All-America team this year.
“You’d much rather have Bre White on your side than on the opposing team,” Michaels said. “She was phenomenal throughout her career. To win it with a penalty stroke in the championship, it’s a phenomenal thing to have her on your team.”