Derek White couldn’t.
Prior to his junior season, the senior Fruitport back slipped in practice and popped out a shoulder — the same shoulder that suffered ligament damage when White was wrestling in eighth grade.
White’s surgery and subsequent physical therapy didn’t allow him to take the field in 2012.
"I learned a lot from sitting out and watching them play,” White said. “It sucked (though). I cried some nights. But everything happens for a reason. I just worked this offseason, and tried my hardest."
White confided in head coach Greg Vargas during that time. Vargas got him more involved in practice, even beginning to call him “Coach” White.
“Derek and I talk a lot about leadership, and what that looks like,” Vargas said. “Things don’t always go your way, they don’t always go the way you draw them up. We try to tell the whole team that, but we had to start early because of his situation — that life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it. It’s a major coachism and a cliché, but I’d like to think it’s the idea that brought him through to being ready to go, being true to that.”
After a hard summer of work in the weight room, White was ready to go — but the injury bug took a bite once again.
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