Where Are They Now?: Looking back on 35 years in education, Doug White relishes his time at Oakmont the most – The Gardner News

PEMBROKE — When he was first hired as a teacher-coach at Oakmont Regional for the 1988-89 school year, Doug White was being tabbed to become the next baseball coach.

At the time, coach Marty Anderson was planning to step down at the end of the year, so athletic director Bill Wyman asked White to coach the varsity softball team in the meantime.

All White did was go out and win the Division 2 state title, after his Spartans put together a 21-game winning streak producing the first state championship in Oakmont sports history.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into when Bill asked me to coach the softball team for a year,” White recalled. “When the baseball job opened up, the plan would be for me to move over, but I guess I never left softball.”

Over nine seasons at the Spartans helm, White posted a 171-39 record which included six Mid-Wach League titles, five district championships and a pair of state crowns.

“Once the winning tradition started, the girls just felt that they could beat anybody,” he said. “They worked hard at practice, they worked on their skills and they always improved. I just basically tried to find the best positions for them, for the good of the team. It all paid off.”

White grew up in Leominster where he played football and baseball before graduating in 1978. While growing up, he watched his dad Doug White Sr. pitch locally with the Red Onion in the City Softball League.

Eventually, father and son would team up on the Doug-Out Lounge team, then later the younger White played for Hakala Brothers and Simplex.

He began college at Assumption as a pre-med major, but left after two years and went to UMass where he graduated in 1982 with a degree in physical education. He did some subbing at Oakmont while serving as a member of coach Dave LaRoche’s football staff, however teachers were not being hired amidst the Proposition 2 ½ layoffs.

Instead, he opened Fitness Unlimited next door to his dad’s business — the Doug-Out Lounge in Gardner — for three years. Other fitness-related jobs followed at Orchard Hills Athletic Club in Lancaster, Fort Devens and finally at the University of New Hampshire, where he was coordinator of recreational sports for three years.

Finally in 1988-89, a teaching position opened up at Oakmont.

What he didn’t realize when he stepped into the softball job was that many years of success on the youth softball level under the likes of coaches Maurice and Colleen Picard and Richard “Bubba” Drury prepared the girls for the next step in high school.

“That was all set up and the Little League did a great job of getting the young ladies ready to participate at the high school level,” White said. “When they did, they performed to superior levels.”

White also praised the dedication of his assistant coaches Mickey Mason, his JV coach throughout the years, as well as Gary Caouette and John DiGeronimo.

“They were instrumental in helping out. We had very dedicated people who put a lot of time and energy into it and it paid off,” he said. “We didn’t realize we were going to get to that level at the time but they did it, and did it as well as anyone could expect.”

During his first season as coach in 1989, Oakmont dropped its first game of the season, 8-7, to St. Bernard’s and its sensational pitcher Rose Howe. And then the Spartans didn’t lose again, eventually meeting the Bernardians in the District E, Division 2 finals.

In the championship game, Howe found herself two outs from throwing a perfect game, but never-say-die Oakmont rallied for a pair of late runs for a pulsating 2-1 district championship win.

“I think it came down to determination. If you put the ball in play anything can happen,” said White. “You make your own luck by making contact.”

Oakmont also had a pitching sensation of its own with Becky Phelps, one of many standout hurlers of the White era which included Heather Baker, Lisa Marien and White’s stepdaughter Jess Boudreau.

The 1989 state finals saw the Spartans being no-hit again, this time by Apponequet pitching ace Nancy Sparrow. However, Oakmont pulled out a 2-1 state championship victory.

Members of that title-winning team, inducted into the Oakmont Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010, were Phelps, Tess Benson, Jen Boivin, Kelly Brennan, Melissa Charland, Cheryl Cormier, Jen Gennaro, Dawn Hubbard, Tracy Jaillet, Terri LaCava, Amy Mercier, Missy Markofsky, Michelle Phelps and Tina Soucy.

The following year, Oakmont won another 18 in a row, stretching their winning streak to 39 straight before losing in the first round of the 1990 playoffs to Fitchburg, 3-2 in eight innings.

“Jen Gennaro wound up not being able to play that game due to an injury, and that position in the batting order came up several times with people in scoring position,” White noted. “It was unfortunate we didn’t have her for that one. She was one of our leading RBI producers in the batting order. It is what it is, but give credit to Fitchburg for winning that game.”

In addition, Oakmont was moved up to Division 1 in 1990 due to realignment.

“We weren’t able to defend our state title that year,” White said. “Then, they moved us back down to Division 2 the following year and we won it again.”

Baker kicked off the 1991 postseason in style by throwing a no-hitter against Ayer. The Spartans went on to beat Notre Dame Academy, 4-3 in the finals, and then overwhelmed Hampshire Regional in the state semis, 10-2, and Danvers in the state title game, 9-1.

The Spartans would then go on a three-year run where they captured district titles over Northbridge (5-4 in eight innings in 1992), Westboro (4-3 in 1993) and Notre Dame Academy (5-2 in 1994).

However, their quest to return to the state championship game was derailed each season in the state semifinals by Mount Greylock Regional High of Williamstown.

“We kept getting to the state semifinals (against Mt. Greylock), but we just couldn’t get that next game under our belts,” said White. “We won district titles and we had the train running, and the girls worked really hard and were very dedicated to the sport. We were very successful for many years there.”

Over his last three years, between 1995-97, the Spartans advanced to the playoffs, but would not win another championship.

Following a tough-luck 1-0, eight-inning loss to Notre Dame Academy in the 1997 district finals, “my stepdaughter Jess Boudreau and I walked off together after the final game,” White said.

After a couple of seasons as Oakmont football coach (1997-98) and athletic director, White left Oakmont in 1999 to take an administrative position in the Plymouth (Mass.) school district. Between 1999-2005 he was athletic director and director of student support K-12.

Then he moved to New Hampshire to become assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in the Henniker, Weare and Stoddard school district from 2005-07. From 2008-10 he served as superintendent there and then left in 2011 to become superintendent in the Old Rochester Regional District located in Mattapoisett from which he retired in 2020.

“I had a lot of great experiences, worked with a lot of great people and was introduced to many students, both academically and athletically, who were unbelievable individuals,” he said. “Many have gone on to be very successful, so it was a very rewarding career.”

White married his wife Kathy in 1985 and she had two daughters from a previous marriage, Shawna and Jess. Together, they have a daughter Ashley. Shawna’s sons Aidan and Logan Tamulen were recent Oakmont athletes. Jess also has a son and a daughter, while Ashley has one- and two-year old children.

The Whites enjoy retirement in the South Shore town of Pembroke where much of their spare time is spent babysitting their grandchildren three days a week. They hope to also resume traveling in the post-COVID shutdown, as well as return to the golf course.

“I’m just trying to enjoy life and give back to the family, after giving so many years to education,” White said.

And while he has fond memories of the many stops along the way of a nearly 35-year career in education, those Oakmont years bring him his greatest joy.

“Oakmont really took pride in their athletics. The kids worked hard and there was a winning tradition in all of the programs,” he said. “When they put the uniform on, they worked as hard as they could to not only be good athletes, but to be good sportsmen.”

(Do you have a suggestion for a future “Where are they Now” segment? Please contact Mike Richard at [email protected] or in writing Mike Richard, 92 Boardley Rd. Sandwich, MA 02563)