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He’s retiring on paper, not in spirit

Athletic Director Monte White steps down after 24 years at Del Oro
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Editor’s Note: Sports reporter Sara Seyydin caught up with Del Oro athletic director Monte White to interview him about his time as an educator at Del Oro High School. Their conversation follows. Position: Currently the Athletic Director. White also been an assistant principal, teacher and coach. Years spent at Del Oro: 24 What is one of your favorite memories at Del Oro? The deal is I love working with our youth. The hardest part is knowing that I won’t have the opportunity to be involved with kids on a daily basis anymore. To pick one fond memory of all of them would be impossible. Countless kids have impacted my life. It happens everyday — where you say that was just a special memory. How have you seen Del Oro change in the years you have been there? The size of the school is making us work harder and harder to make every kid feel as if they are important on our campus. One of the strengths of Del Oro is that the staff cares so much about the kids and not letting the kids slip through the cracks. When I started there were about 1,000 kids and now it’s at around 1,700, which doesn’t sound like a big difference, but the staff really hasn’t grown. We are working to get every kid involved at Del Oro. Everybody needs to be involved with the heartbeat of Del Oro. What is one athletic team has inspired you and why? I’m going to be very specific. I’m going to hit on a particular coach. Jen Isaac, who is incredible at teaching life skills, watching her daily and teaching the kids life skills through tennis. It’s about enriching kids’ lives and making them better people. It’s an amazing thing to watch her operate. The feedback comes from the students directly. I’m glad not every coach is like Jen Isaac because then maybe we wouldn’t appreciate how special she is, but on the same token we wish we had a whole closest-full of Jen Isaacs. For longevity Mike Takayama. He has 26 years of impacting kids lives. There are so many great coaches, it’s hard to pick one. What is one legacy you hope to leave from your time at Del Oro? I really hope that if anything else, we put at the number one of everybody’s goal in their program is to create an enriching experience for the kids that supersedes any wins and supersedes any championships. I believe when you have those experiences winning will be a by-product of those experiences, but it doesn’t work the other way around. What are you looking forward to about retirement? When you go a thousand miles an hour it’s difficult to pull over and put the break on. My plan was to do absolutely nothing for a few years. It looks like I may be back in the mix coaching a sport. There is a very good I chance I could be the JV water polo coach in the fall with my daughter. The juices are flowing. It would be so much fun doing this. It’s in my blood. People have said it’s your calling. You can’t fight your calling. I’m not going to be in a boat fishing and I’m not going to be on a golf course. It’s still absolutely fun and inspiring to work with kids. I am afraid of dying and wishing I had done more for other people. As other people throw their keys on the desk, I’m trying to find out how to keep mine. The rewards are just unending. I have been blessed to it. Most of my tears have been of joy. What other things are you and your family interested in? I met my wife at Tahoe. It was one of those deals where we both had this incredible love for Lake Tahoe and taught up there. When she retires in three years we plan to move back up there. My daughters are both in education. We are all kind of in this family thing of Lake Tahoe and teaching and loving life. If I’m not here, we like to get to Lake Tahoe as much as possible. What has been the most difficult thing you have faced as an educator ? Just believing in kids and that kids have so much to offer. I have rarely ever not believed — that even in spite of kids’ shortcomings, they are all good kids. Kids don’t all cross the finish line at the same time. We have to continue to believe in them until the bitter end. We expect so much of them and expect more every year. It’s easy for them to get frustrated. When we see kids years later we finally see the pay off. We are in the business to take care of youth. Dn’t give up on them. Which of your personal accomplishments at Del Oro have brought you the most joy? I think we are continuing to educate our coaching staff to be better leaders and mentors. I see that reflected in the kids as they continue to participate and the fact that the number of kids participating in sports continues to climb. We’re trying to do a better job of our academic expectations for our kids. We have really increased how often we check on grades to keep the kids accountable. Kids in athletics score a higher GPA than kids not involved in athletics. We really feel strongly that we need to be student athletes. We started up the athletic hall of fame. That was really major for us. And a brand new thing we are really excited about to start next year is the Women’s Athletic Club. We have formed a club to empower our gals — not only in athletics, but to be powerful woman. We have done an incredible amount of work improving our facilities. The better the facilities, the better kids feel about themselves. What were your original goals? Have they changed? Survive. I used to talk about the job of being a facilitator and assisting everybody to become better coaches and help the kids be successful — just doing everything I can for everybody to be successful. The more we accomplish this the more I think there is still so much work to be done. Who is the incoming athletic director and why did you choose him? It’s Justin Cutts. Justin has been a teacher and coach at Del Oro High School and operated as the assistant principal at the adult school. He is going to come on as the athletic director and dean of students. He is going to be tremendous. They have chosen somebody who will be really good at it. He has great leadership qualities and was a successful coach. He kind of fits all of it. What advice do you have to offer the new athletic director? Continue to be proactive and take a proactive role in everything. Make sure all the programs feel they are the most important program on the campus and make sure every student athlete feels they are the most important athlete. Find a way to raise a lot of money. With the new budget constraints, what will his challenges be? Convincing our parents that there is no money tree in the back yard and that we all have to contribute to our athletic programs. Truly between the district and the site, the money isn’t there, and there is no free ride from anybody. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.