When taking a look at all of history’s championship teams, one thing becomes pretty obvious. All great teams need great leadership. Luckily for the Hodags, this team has a large supply. The 2012 Hodag basketball team has no fewer than eight senior athletes returning to help this year’s Rhinelander team make their run toward immortality. Perhaps no returning player is as watched as senior forward Shane White. After posting an extremely impressive junior season, White is returning for what he hopes to be an extremely high profile senior year.
When asking the captain about what he wants to accomplish, his goals are lofty. When analyzing this Hodag team, it becomes apparent that just about anything is possible.
“I want to go to State this year,” said White. “I don’t want to get people overly excited, but I think that is a realistic goal. I also really think we can win the conference. I don’t want to look past that, but I really can see us making a run at State.”
When taking a quick look at White’s past, it is easy to see how he fell in love with the game of basketball. With nine years of experience on the hardwood, the feel of the game has become intertwined with who he is. He spoke of some of his favorite memories throughout his career, and why they meant so much to his development as a player.
“Over nine years I’ve done a lot, but I just loved our traveling team in middle school with Coach (Jim) Flory and Coach (Brandon) Karaba. Those were some fun tournaments. And then, obviously, the Hortonville game, that was huge for us.”
When looking ahead to the future, White has a vast amount of opportunities ahead of him. With college scouts traveling to observe his game, the fruits of his labors are beginning to shine.
“I’m hoping to be playing in college on a scholarship,” said White. “I’m not sure where yet, but I’ve had some interest, so we are going to have to see what happens this year. Colleges are coming to some of my games this season. I want to go to school for physical therapy and stay involved with sports.”
When asked if he would potentially coach in the future, White responded with a smile and stated, “I’m not sure yet. Maybe I will. I’d like to stay involved, but it’s not something I’m bent on. If I coach I want to do something like Karaba and Flory did.”
Those aforementioned coaches are the individuals to whom White gives most of the credit for his love of this game.
“Those are the guys that made me love basketball,” said White. “I don’t think I would have been as dedicated, or worked this hard, without them. They just had a way of making you love this game.”
Focusing on the season, fans and players alike have all heard the goals for this extremely vaunted squad. When questioning White about what he thinks gives this team its edge, his answer is surprisingly simple.
“I think we just have a very talented group of basketball players. Not many teams can have people 6′ 6”, 6′ 4”, 6′ 3”, 6′ 2” and 6′ that are able to shoot and run the floor. We just have so many good basketball players. We have a solid starting five and we are a long and fast team. We have the skill.”
When discussing any specific matchups or tournaments he is looking forward to this year, White points towards a couple Great Northern Conference foes, including last year’s champion, Antigo.
“I want to beat Antigo this year. I had never lost to Antigo until I got to high school, and now Coach Lemmens and I are 0-4 against the Robins. We need to beat them. I am also looking forward to Lakeland. I grew up watching (former Hodag head coach) Rich Fortier coach my brothers and I really wanted to play for him. When he left, I knew I wouldn’t get that chance and now I have the opportunity to play against him. I have the chance to beat him and I want to win.”
White finished last season averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest in conference play. With a talented roster and additional experience around him, White and the Hodags have a chance to make some history in the 2012-13 season.
Shane had a team high 15 points and five rebounds in the Hodags’ season opening win against Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln down in Wisconsin Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Rhinelander travels to Crandon on Dec. 1 for their next contest.
Editor’s note: For more coverage of local sports, visit StarJournalNOW.com and HodagSports.com.