Bo White was a standout athlete in three sports at Durant High School and graduated in 2008. He was named All-State in two sports – football and soccer, one of few students to have ever done that. But, when you watched him play soccer, you just knew there was something special there.
White received numerous post-season awards for his playing performance at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah this year.
White was named Daktronics 1st team All-American, NCAA DII 3rd team All-American, All-Region player, All-Conference player and the MIAA Regional Player of the Year.
What was remarkable about his performance this year and the resulting awards is that White never played club soccer growing up which is where “all” the best players play and improve their abilities.
“I wasn’t expecting all the awards,” said White. “I knew I was having a good season, but wasn’t even aware of the possibility of the awards. It really means a lot.”
But, as Bo told the story, playing soccer almost never happened.
“I wasn’t even going to play soccer in high school at first,” said White. “I was going to play golf. But my dad and grandparents talked me into playing soccer. Once I started playing, I began watching soccer and really got into it. We had some good runs in both soccer and basketball. I was injured in both my sophomore and junior years in football. I loved football but didn’t want to put in all the effort – it just wasn’t fun. I loved playing but not practicing.”
“Soccer, I loved everything about it,” White went on, “I wanted to get out and do something on my own after the freshman year of football at Southeastern. I visited NEO (Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College) in Miami in January. It was cold and I wasn’t sure about it. But I quit football and decided to give NEO a shot. It was an experience. It was a new program and a weird setup. He was a good coach and we had good teams and I did ok. I scored five- six goals each season. I got my Associate Degree in the two years.” said White.
The Northeastern State University coach offered White a try-out and he was offered a scholarship, but there was still confliction.
“I was either going to go to NSU and play soccer or to Ft. Lewis College in Colorado.” said White, “But I was not going to play at Ft. Lewis, just go to school. I decided to play at NSU for two years. The first year was pretty frustrating. It was weird. I only scored three goals and didn’t get playing time like I was used to. I wasn’t fit enough and played only about one-half of the time. The coach (Rob Czlonka) stressed paying attention to details. He was very knowledgeable about soccer and had good coaching experience. It was different.” said White.
But White made a change that summer.
“I lived in Tahlequah for the summer and a lot of the other players on the team were there and we played every day,” said White. “I was more fit when this past season started. I played almost every minute of every game. I loved it. I don’t like to be subbed.”
Not only did White have a great season, the team exceeded their expectations as well finishing their regular season with a record of 11-3-3 and a number one ranking in the region.
“Our goal was to win the conference championship,” said White. “We lost 1-0 to Lindenwood University in the championship final, but we were still ranked number one in the region. This allowed us to host the NCAA playoffs for the quarterfinals. We won the first game against Ft. Hays State, 6-3. This set up the game against Saginaw State in the field of eight. We lost 1-0 when they scored a goal in the second overtime period with 54 seconds left.” White continued, “But it was a good year, we exceeded the coach’s expectations. He was sad of the ending but at the same time happy with the season. He and his wife also had a baby during the season which added to his stress.”
White played center midfield (either the offensive position or the defensive position) most of the year and scored 14 goals and was credited with 5 assists for the season. He also had a four goal game in a pre-season match with Oklahoma Baptist University scoring all of the team’s goals in a 4-2 win over the highly regarded NAIA opponent.
These goals are in addition to the 14 during the regular season. This kind of scoring is a little unusual from a midfielder and was a big reason for the post season accolades.
“Most of my goals came from around the top of the 18, but I did score with some free kicks as well,” said White. “Free kicks were my favorite thing to do. I took all the free kicks within scoring distance. I put in five of them during the year.”
But the highlight of the year came to White after the season was over. He was invited to a tryout combine for the Seattle Sounders, one of the top five MLS teams and with a great fan base in Seattle where they average around 40,000 in attendance for their games. This tryout combine took place on December 15, 16 and 17 in Las Vegas and included about 50 players.
“It was quite an experience to be around that much talent,” said White. “These were mostly DI players from all around the country. Most of the Sounders’ staff was there. They split the 50 players up into four teams and we just played games, one game per day. I did a lot of good things. They played me in all three positions, defender, forward, and midfielder. My dad and Max (Bo’s brother who currently plays baseball for OU) were there with me. Dad’s reaction was that it was “awesome”. He loved watching the soccer. It was good soccer. We didn’t have much contact with the coaches after the games.”
“There are other combines that I am looking at attending in January and February,” said White. “I just want a chance to play professionally. I know I can do it. I have not hit a wall yet. I am still improving. I want to see how far I can go. I want to play soccer for as long as I can. I want to get to a team and excel and move up.” said White.
Although White’s goal is to play professional soccer, he is on track to graduate this spring with a degree in Health and Human Performance and a minor in Psychology.
White is home from school for the holidays. This reminds him of another passion he has.
“I love to play golf with Max and my dad,” said White. “It always comes down to the last hole. It’s so much fun. My dad loves it and he loves to beat us. He knows how to play the game. He used to play golf for Southeastern.”
White’s advice to young athletes?
“Dream big and play as much as you can,” White said. “Just keep doing it. Hard work does pay off. You will get results. Nothing beats hard work.”
So, is Bo White the best soccer player to come up through Durant? Who knows? But White has been invited to a professional tryout, received numerous collegiate All-American awards and is on the radar of professional teams. He is still talking about improving and his comments indicate a great attitude for his future wherever it leads.