White plays valuable roles for Nitro’s football, soccer teams
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Four years ago, Nitro offensive coordinator Derek Midkiff jokingly gave his good friend Alex White an ultimatum: be a kicker for the Wildcats or else.
White, a 14-year-old freshman at the time, agreed, and it has turned out to be a great decision for White and Nitro's first-year football coach.
This season, White leads the state with nine made field goals, and his kicking abilities have helped Nitro (2-4) match the most wins combined over the past three seasons. The Wildcats went 1-9 in 2009 and 2010, and were winless (0-10) in 2011.
"I know Alex personally and have known him and his family for years," Midkiff said. "He lives across the street from my parents. We have a great relationship. He was in my wedding. We couldn't be much closer. It would be the same thing as having a son out there and be successful at whatever. I'm very proud of him."
White confirmed his coach's take on their relationship.
"He's absolutely like an older brother to me," White said. "He is a very close friend. I started kicking my freshman year and I did it for him."
In leading the state in field goals, White has given Midkiff and the Wildcats a scoring weapon, and even kicked Nitro to a 27-24 victory over Lincoln County on Sept. 21 with the game-winning 30-yard field goal with 7 seconds left.
"It's been pretty big and means a lot," White said. "I had that game-winning field goal. Derek (Midkiff) set it up really nice, right down the middle. I was calm, and kicked it perfectly down the middle. I kicked a few field goals to help beat St. Albans."
White is 9-for-11 on field goal attempts, but Midkiff indicated neither were true misses. Both came on blocks - one by Poca and another against Hurricane. White's longest make was from 42 yards against Ripley.
Midkiff understands the importance of the kicking game.
"It's awesome to have a good kicker," Midkiff said. "Special teams is big; it's a third of the game. Anytime we get inside the 30, it's automatic that we can get points. That's good to know. On extra points, any time the set and hold (snapper Bee Lester and holder Chris Moody) is good, it's going through."
As solid as White is on the football field, he is perhaps an even better soccer player as a midfielder. Just like he has helped turn things around for the football team, he has also guided the Wildcats (10-7) to their most wins in four seasons.
"Alex is the cornerstone of the program," Nitro soccer Coach Brian Young said. "With his skill, leadership and intensity, he takes our team to the next level. Not only is he a threat to score, he gives us the ability to control the ball in the midfield. He dominates the game."
White is ecstatic his senior season has played out like it has, especially with all the losing he suffered throughout the past three seasons in each sport.
"It's been very, very difficult," White said. "I stayed at Nitro every year knowing the next year might not be so good but after my junior year, I knew it would be better. This season has really meant a lot and now we are getting back to the level where Nitro should be."