DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — One of Foxcroft Academy’s top athletes of recent vintage is now the school’s interim varsity football coach for the 2009 season.
Danny White, a 2003 Foxcroft graduate who as a senior was named the LTC Class C football player of the year and the Big East Conference basketball player of the year, was named to the post late Wednesday.
“Danny just has a tremendous passion for the program, the school and this community,” said Foxcroft athletic administrator Tim Smith.
The 24-year-old White replaces Paul Withee, whose teaching and coaching contracts were not renewed for the 2009-10 academic year by then- head of school Raymond P. Webb.
Withee, who taught math at the school, guided the Ponies a 150-56 record in 19 seasons, a run highlighted by three state championships and seven Eastern Maine Class C titles.
“I don’t feel pressure, I feel a lot of excitement,” said White, who after high school went on to captain the baseball team at Husson University in Bangor, from where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“This situation is a great one for me to be involved with. The excitement definitely outweighs the pressure.”
Foxcroft advertised the coaching vacancy in late June, but was unable to hire a new football coach until after the superintending committee of the private school’s board of trustees heard Withee’s appeal of his dismissal earlier this month.
That hearing was held July 9, and the board upheld the non-renewal of Withee’s contract last Friday.
“It’s been a tough situation for the kids because of the time frame,” White said, “but we’re going to work to keep the program going in the right direction.”
White, whose father and uncle both were quarterbacks at Foxcroft and whose grandmother was a longtime English teacher at the school, has remained close to the Ponies’ athletic program since his graduation.
He served as a volunteer assistant football coach at Foxcroft last year, and he also has been a basketball assistant at the school.
“It’s definitely something I wanted to get involved with,” said White of coaching, “and I’ve always tried to be involved as much as I could because of my close ties with the school.”
White is taking the football coaching post on an interim basis this season because he also recently took a new job with the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union and wants to make sure he can devote sufficient attention to both responsibilities.
Most of Withee’s coaching staff from last season will join White on the sidelines this fall, in particular defensive coordinator Gary Worthing, a former Foxcroft head coach and longtime presence within the program.
“He’s going to be a tremendous asset for the team and also for me personally,” said White. “He has tremendous knowledge of the game, and he commands respect. He’s someone I’m really going to rely on.”
White and others on the coaching staff will be involved in the program’s summer camp next week, giving him the opportunity to alleviate any concerns returning players may have had about the uncertainty of the coaching situation.
“I want to make sure the kids understand that their world is not going to be turned upside down,” said White. “There will be a lot of similarities, and we’ll only be making changes where changes need to be made.”
Formal preseason football practices statewide begin Monday, Aug. 17. Foxcroft Academy begins its regular season Friday, Sept. 4, at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
The Ponies finished 6-4 last fall, reaching the LTC semifinals before falling to eventual state champion John Bapst of Bangor 41-22. That marked the first time since 2000 that Foxcroft did not advance at least to the Eastern Maine Class C championship game.