Fonso White and his wife Amy joke that he should invest in a Tesla. “I make this drive so much, I feel like I need a car that has autopilot.” […]
Fonso White and his wife Amy joke that he should invest in a Tesla.
“I make this drive so much, I feel like I need a car that has autopilot.”
The Bishop Luers boys basketball coach makes the mindless drive up I-69 nearly every day in the fall and winter. His home, family and job (he teaches physical education at Stonybrook Middle School) are in Indianapolis, but his passion led him to Fort Wayne.
“I have always been OK with driving for a job, even going back to when I was at Franklin College as a student and coach,” White said. “I would never want to uproot my family.”
So while most other coaches transit to and from their job and coaching duties in a matter of minutes, White does the same in a matter of just under a few hours per day, if traffic complies.
It’s a worthy inconvenience that has led to a program’s resurgence.
White has always had his eye on the Bishop Luers job, even from afar. First with James Blackmon Sr. and following him with J.J. Foster, the Knights found success that they had not had anytime in their history in boys hoops. Conference and sectional titles piled up, as well as back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009. In Foster’s final season just three years ago, Bishop Luers came within a win of the 2A state title game.
“I saw what was possible at a Catholic school when you get the CYO league under you running what you want run in order to develop,” White said. “I spoke to my buddy Michael Wantz (at Roncalli) about it. He has had lots of success there using that very formula.”
White was a finalist for both the Indy North Central and Warren Central jobs before being told he did not have the experience coaching in a big-time conference and area. That further pushed White north. So when Will Hubertz was one-and-done as head coach of the Knights, the man who was committed to coaching no matter the distance put his name in the running.
White spoke to Homestead senior Jake Archbold, who he had coached in AAU, and his parents about Fort Wayne basketball and the Bishop Luers job. What they said further encouraged him.
“I really didn’t think I had a chance, but when (Bishop Luers athletic director Kevin Godfroy) reached out it was a welcome surprise,” White said. “Fort Wayne is the second-biggest hot bed of talent in the state and I wanted to be a part of it.”
For Godfroy, going with a coach who was not going to be in the building during the day and regularly commuting at least 90 minutes to practices and games was a leap of faith.
But how White sold himself sold Godfroy.
“It was his passion for working with and development student athletes (that stood out),” Godfroy said. “We love his ‘We Over Me’ philosophy. And we truly believed that he would be able to develop relationships with our students and get them to buy into playing for each other.”
In September of 2018, White was hired to lead the Knights, leaving his assistant job at Westfield.
Due to taking over so close to the season, it was a whirlwind to learn the players and the area while readying for Year 1. That said, White prioritized things that he wanted to change from the outset.
“The biggest thing was discipline,” White said. “Discipline with shot selection, discipline when it came to body language. First and foremost, I saw a team that needed a change in those things.”
Bishop Luers entered last season with raised expectations following a one-win campaign. But when then-junior Demarcus Hudson went down in the fifth game of the year with a season-ending injury, it derailed much of the momentum.
“I feel we could have won 10 games last year if we could have stayed healthy,” said White, whose team finished 4-18.
Year 1’s disappointment did not derail how White approached his first full off-season. He worked with his team throughout the summer at showcases, he bulked up the non-conference schedule and he continued to put his stamp on Bishop Luers basketball, all while living in Indianapolis.
The momentum continued into this season. Sitting now at 12-6 and 6-2 in the SAC, Bishop Luers has a chance this week to win at least a share of its first SAC championship since 2012.
But the goals are greater for White.
“We want to develop our younger kids through CYO, get better and win a few championships along the way,” White said.
With a supportive wife and kids ages six and eight, White tries to maximize his time at home. Sometimes he gets back from Fort Wayne in time to put his kids to bed. Then usually it’s back to work studying film and preparing for the next practice or game.
It makes for long days and long drives, but White wouldn’t change a thing.
Neither would Bishop Luers.