AUBURN — We’ve all heard the saying, “Timing is everything.” It can be used in relationships or jobs or in any other case you think it may apply.
For Daron White, the timing was just right for him to become the next head coach of the Lakewood Park boys soccer team.
White is one of the busiest people I’ve come across in doing this job. He and his wife Carla are the owners of Classic City Signs in Auburn, which opened in 2000, and they bought Sign Pro, located in Fort Wayne, in 2001.
“Employees in the past have (called me) jack of all trades,” White said with a laugh.
White was also one of the founding members of the Rangers Academy in 2006, which started out as just a training program for soccer players and turned into a full travel soccer program in 2009. White is still on the board of directors with the Rangers Academy and coached a travel team as recently as last year.
He was also the head coach for the Panthers’ first track season this past spring.
“Just being able to invest the time, because I didn’t want to go in it part of the way. I definitely want to go full bore with it,” White said on why now is the right time to be a varsity head coach.
White has been coaching soccer for 17 years from the youth leagues at the YMCA to the Lakewood Park junior high team for 10 years. He also started helping out with the Panther boys varsity squad in the later years of leading the junior high teams.
White said he has had chances to be a high school varsity head coach in the past but his busy work schedule wouldn’t allow him to take over such a huge time commitment.
“I definitely have a lot of support from (my wife),” White said.
White is a graduate of Penn High School and Taylor University. He ran cross country and track, but didn’t get involved with soccer until his oldest son Justin started playing when he was four years old.
Since Daron White was the coach of the Lakewood Park junior high team for 10 years, he already knows the majority of his players on this year’s Panther roster, including his son Colton.
“It definitely makes it fun to coach your own son and a lot of his friends that I’m really close with as well,” White said. “So there’s a lot of connections there outside of soccer that makes it a lot of fun.”
White said this year’s group of juniors is a special one because of the success they had at the junior high level.
“Sometimes you just have those classes that are really talented, and it just happens to be that junior class has a lot of talent in it,” White said. “But then the kids themselves have bonded really well, which makes it fun and special.”
The Panthers only lost one starter of last year’s squad that went 7-8-4 and lost in the sectional semifinals to the eventual Class 1A state champion Canterbury Cavaliers. White said he has 11 to 13 players who are returning with starting experience.
“We have a very experienced team and pretty high expectations,” White said.
The Lakewood Park boys soccer program has had a lot of postseason success up until the last two seasons, when it has lost in the sectional. Before then, it won nine straight sectional titles. That’s where White wants this program to get back to.
“From a wins and losses standpoint, we want to get back and get that sectional championship,” White said. “We’ve missed that a couple of years now. So that’s definitely a team goal.
“I definitely accept that challenge and am glad that there has been that history. I’m looking forward to continuing that and hopefully we can take that next step as well,” White added.
That next step for the Panthers would be to win a regional and advance farther into the state tournament, which it hasn’t done.
So for Lakewood Park to get back to its winning ways, it’s going to take time and a lot of work, but its new leader Daron White should be used to that by now.