Vanderbilt’s new women’s basketball coach brings history of LGBT activism

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When Stephanie White begins work in Nashville later this year, she will arrive as the first openly lesbian head coach of the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team. As well, she will become just the second ever openly gay head coach in the history of women’s college basketball.

Though there is (appropriately) no reference to her personal life on her profile page on the Vanderbilt website, word of mouth and of course Ms. White’s renowned reputation precedes her.

According to Vanderbilt Director of Athletics David Williams, “Stephanie White has been a winner in every phase of her career,” from being named the nation’s high school player of the year and the NCAA’s Player of the Year as a student.

After five seasons in the WNBA and a number of years as assistant coach, she comes to Vanderbilt from the head coach position of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. This is her second season with the club; she led the team to the finals last year, becoming the first coach ever to bring a team to the finals in her first year.

See photos and video from the announcement.

Outsports, a website that covers the world of sports to an LGBT audience, referenced a 2015 story from the Tampa Bay Times regarding the lack of acceptance to LGBT players in college level sports. It also noted that White has been open about her sexuality during her tenure with the Fever.

“I consider myself an advocate because I have a platform to influence people,” she told the Indianapolis Business Journal. She continued:

One of the reasons I decided to start being an advocate (is) because there are a lot of people in this state who know me—who know who I am. Not who know Stephanie White the coach. Not Stephanie White the player. But who know Stephanie White the person.

Ms. White will bring to Tennessee her family, which consists of her wife Michelle and three sons.

Interested readers may want to check out this profile from the Indy Star newspaper from last year as well as this story, regarding the lure of a college level coaching job versus one in the professional women's league, reprinted by The Tennessean.


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Family photo via Twitter. Top graphic by Joe Howell via Vanderbilt.