Defining Family On and Off the Court
When Mike White accepted the position of University of Florida head basketball coach in May of this year, he did something a bit unusual in the college basketball world – he brought his entire coaching staff from Louisiana Tech to join him in Gainesville. We sat down with the coaches and their wives to learn how they felt about the big move to Gainesville and how their unique bond shapes their relationships both on and off the court.
One of Kira White’s first priorities after the move was finding a good grocery store so she could provide lunch for her youngest son, Dillon, and his four brothers and sisters, Collin, Keegan, Rylee and Maggie.
A self-described “behind-the-scenes person” who would rather be supporting her family than anywhere else, Kira and her husband, University of Florida head basketball coach Mike White, consider family to be the most important thing in their lives.
Family and community are a common priority amongst all of Coach White’s coaching staff and their spouses, who happily moved earlier this year at White’s invitation from Ruston, Louisiana, to the heart of the Gator Nation.
For assistant coach Dusty May, his wife Anna, and their three sons Jack, Charlie and Eli, the required travel has been a challenge and a blessing. Luckily, the move to Gainesville has been more of a blessing, thanks in large part to the other staff members.
“We’ve all had a lot of moves, and this is the first time that I’ve ever moved as an entire staff,” explained Anna. “It’s nice to be able to call the other wives and say ‘What about this? Who should we call for this?’”
“Everyone was so welcoming and comforting during the move,” echoed LaTisha Mincy, who is married to assistant coach Jordan Mincy. “I feel like we kind of bonded last season. I don’t know if that sounds cliché, but it was very easy. The biggest thing Jordan and I cherish within a coaching family is the loyalty and the respect, and it’s an added blessing to be working with such a great head coach.”
“It was good to already know the ladies when we moved here,” agreed Courtnie, who is married to assistant coach Darris Nichols. “Although I’m very talkative — I’ve never met a stranger,” she laughed.
The warm reception from the Gainesville community and Gator fan base has also been part of the blessing.
“We’ve gotten fresh bread, homemade pies, and neighbors knocking on the door just to welcome us,” reflected Anna. “It’s been a very easy transition. Gainesville also has great schools, and [my sons have] already made a lot of friends.”
“It’s so beautiful and the people are great here,” said Kira. “People take so much pride in everything,” explained Kira, adding that she loves how people around town are always decked out in orange and blue in support of the Gators. “It’s so awesome!”
For Darris and Courtnie Nichols, the local food scene is a major highlight of moving to Gainesville.
“We don’t really go to chain restaurants because we love exploring and supporting different local spots,” said Courtnie, cementing her “local foodie” status by casually name-dropping the brunch at Civilization as a recent highlight.
The Nichols are known as the adventurous ones in the group, so moving to a bustling college town central to a lot of fun Florida activities was an easy sell.
“I’ve been to a lot of places since moving here,” Courtnie said with a laugh. In the short time since their arrival, the Nichols have already taken weekend trips to Orlando, St. Augustine and even Key West. “I’m like the event planner. I’ll come up with all of the activities, and my husband just goes.”
“They’re gone every weekend, I’m so jealous,” joked LaTisha. “I want to be adopted into the marriage!”
For the Whites and Mays, who have extended family that live in the area, weekends have been a time to catch up and spend quality time together.
“Being able to be close to family has been really fun, especially for my kids,” said Kira, who grew up in Dunedin. “My parents have been here twice already, all of my sisters have visited, and I got to see my nephew for the first time.”
The family-first approach to life has shaped the couples’ professional lives, including their relationships with the other support staff, the basketball players and the players’ families.
Explained Kira, “We try to create a place where our whole family is the team and the coaches and everybody else who works with the team, so that makes it easier, because you view the players and their families as extended family.”
20-Second Timeout Quick Coaches Q&A
Coaches, what motivates you to get out of bed every day?
MAY: The passion I have for my job. It’s always easy to get up in the morning when you do something you enjoy, because it never feels like work.
MINCY: These young men, having the opportunity to mentor and be a role model for them.
NICHOLS: Helping kids get better every day.
WHITE: I don’t need any motivation to get out of bed. I wake up excited every day because I’m a pretty lucky guy with a lot to be excited about, especially my family and coaching these guys.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
MAY: Enjoy the moment. In our jobs we’re always planning for the next recruiting class, the next game, the next recruiting period. You have to remember to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey.
MINCY: Winning means a lot, but it’s not everything. Never let it consume you.
NICHOLS: Hard work, which is what my dad instilled. My dad and mom worked two jobs, so they were a great example of work ethic.
WHITE: Family is the most important thing.
How do you relax and unwind?
MAY: Hanging out with my kids.
MINCY: I like to shop for the latest Nike kicks. The latest [pair I bought] were the KD 8s.
NICHOLS: Watch movies and read books. My favorite movie is “Life” — I love that movie. My favorite book is “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn” by John Maxwell, which I just read for the first time last year.
WHITE: Spending time with my kids.
Ladies, what are some of the challenges of being married to a coach and what about it do you like most?
ANNA MAY: The long hours and traveling involved can be challenging, and early in my husband’s career we moved a great deal. But all of this has been a blessing as well. My three boys have traveled everywhere to watch basketball! They have also lived in numerous states and cities, which has provided them with many wonderful experiences.
LATISHA MINCY: I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the journey of being married to a basketball coach. I’ve moved about six times in the past five years. It’s nice to be able to experience different places but at the same time it’s very hard. As far as the advantages, you do get to see a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people. And right now we’re so glad to be here in Florida.
COURTNIE NICHOLS: For me, it’s the career aspect. When your husband is a basketball coach, it’s easy to lose yourself and think “So what is my role outside of being a coach’s wife?” I’m very independent and a high achiever, and having a career is important to me. The benefit is the moving and travel. I love that. I’ve been able to see the world, and we get to go to places that I probably wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise.
KIRA WHITE: The biggest challenge I think is just the time away from family. My favorite thing about coaching is really getting to know the players and their families, and all the people who work with the team. To me, the best part is those relationships and watching the players grow as people and as players.
What is the one thing all of you would like Gainesville to know about you?
COACH MAY: People would probably think I’m pretty boring, but like I said, I mainly like to hang out with my family.
ANNA: My family and I are truly grateful to be part of a basketball program with this level of tradition and success. We are so excited for the future!
COACH MINCY: I’m into sci-fi, Lord of the Rings and all that. I’ve seen all of those movies and seen every Harry Potter.
LATISHA: I’m not the kind of wife that comes to the games in a T-shirt and jeans… I like to go all out. Because of that, some people may think “She’s too much,” but it’s just my personality. I like and enjoy fashion, so I try to keep [my wardrobe] current and have fun with it.
COACH NICHOLS: I eat local. I love eating local.
COURTNIE: I’m the better athlete. That’s what you need to know. You heard it here first.
COACH WHITE: My family and I really love it here.
KIRA: I’m a Florida girl. I grew up two and a half hours away from here — I grew up a Florida fan — so it’s really a dream come true to be here and be a part of this University and the Gator Nation.