From Country Girl To World Traveler, Chatrice White Is On A Mission For Gold
Self-professed country girl Chatrice White, a member of the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team, hails from Shelby, Nebraska, which listed a population of 698 as of July 2013. Growing up, she participated in a variety of sports, played the trumpet from fifth grade through her junior year of high school, including her final two years as first chair in the Shelby-Rising City High School band, participated in her high school’s theater group and speech team, and went four-wheeling along the river in her spare time.
“In a small school you just did everything,” said White. “I graduated with 30 in my class, so everybody participated in everything. We have three four-wheelers and we have some river ground, so we go out there and ride around on the river. We mess around the water, ride some trails, it’s just something else that everybody does. It’s more of a country girl thing, I guess.”
White also enjoyed her time in the theater.
“That was so fun,” she exclaimed. “I love being on the stage. I think it’s so fun. I love being goofy. Theater was a nice escape. It was nice to get away from basketball and just hang out more with my school friends.”
While she had a myriad of activities to keep her busy, as White began to grow into her 6-foot-3 frame, basketball became more of a focus in her life. Softball was dropped after the eighth grade and she continued competing in volleyball through her freshman year at Shelby-Rising City High, but that’s when things started getting serious with basketball.
“I got my first offer before I went into my freshman year, so I knew it was time to focus on basketball,” White said.
She continued to excel on the hardwood, eventually breaking Nebraska’s all-time girls high school record for rebounds with 1,349 in her prep career, and receiving numerous scholarship offers in the process.
White eventually settled on the University of Illinois, where she recently completed an outstanding freshman season. Wearing No. 32, she was dubbed ’32 Skidoo’ by her father when she was a baby, White averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game, while setting Illinois freshman records for points (448) and blocked shots (60). At the end of the season, White was named 2015 All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention and listed on the 2015 Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
In addition to her conference honors, White’s play in 2014-15 earned her an invitation to the USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team Trials. That was not the first time she thought about donning the red, white and blue USA jersey. A few years ago, someone else put the idea of playing for USA Basketball in White’s head.
“My cousin actually asked me after I was getting all these offers and committed to Illinois, ‘Chatrice, would you ever consider playing for the Olympic Team?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.’ But I never thought that it was in my future. Then when I got the invitation to come to trials, it was surprising and I was really excited.”
Now that White has achieved her dream of making a USA Basketball team, she is working on getting better and helping her team improve every day.
“My strengths are definitely communicating with everybody,” said White about how she will help the team July 18-26 in Russia at the FIBA U19 World Championship. “Coach Staley has said more than once that I talk a lot to my teammates. And my defensive skills, being a post presence, being a big body inside, and finishing around the rim.”
The USA U19 World Championship Team began training in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 30, and in addition to working hard on the court, off the court White has enjoyed getting to know her teammates and coaching staff, which is headed up by three-time Olympian and Naismith Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, head coach at the University of South Carolina.
“Coach Staley is really awesome,” said White. “She’s got high intensity all the time. She’ll get after you, but she’ll also praise you, which I like. Coach (Jeff) Walz is a really good post coach. I’ve worked with him quite a bit. He’s got a lot of good knowledge for the game, so I can really respect that.
“I love these girls,” she said of her teammates. “They’re so much fun to play with on the court. There’s so much energy off the court. They just love to have fun and play basketball. They all come from really good programs, really good schools. It’s interesting to see the different styles of play. I think that’s going to make me a better player, playing with different kinds of players.”
On July 8, White and the USA U19 squad departed for three exhibition games in Spain, and on July 14 the team will continue on to Russia, where it will look to extend the USA Basketball U19 Women’s gold medal streak to six. But despite being from a small town in the middle of the country, the travel won’t faze White.
Before this summer, she traveled all over Europe, including to Austria, Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
And this U19 trip will not be her only international excursion this year.
“I went to Jamaica in May with my mom, my friend and her mom,” recalled White. “Once I get back to campus, we’re going as a team to France in August. So, I will be all over the place.”
So, there will be no international travel jitters for this small town girl, who will be focused on helping her team in its quest for gold at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship.
Follow the USA U19 World Championship Team via Twitter #USABWU19.USA vs. Spain • July 18 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (live online: YouTube.com/FIBA)
USA vs. China • July 19 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (live online: YouTube.com/FIBA)
USA vs. Egypt • July 21 @ 1:15 p.m. EDT (live online: YouTube.com/FIBA)
Round of 16 TBD • July 22
Quarterfinals TBD • July 24
Semifinals TBD • July 25
Finals TBD • July 26