For Senior Forward Mitchell White, playing soccer at Simpson College was just a piece of the pie that brought the 6’ 1” athletic training major to Simpson. Like it is with all record-holders, maybe apart from the likes of the supremely confident Reggie Jacksons or Michael Jordans of the world, holding a career record seems like a far-flung dream at the start of the journey.
But after nearly four years of terrorizing opposing goalkeepers on the pitch, a nice piece of the pie about Simpson soccer turned into a record-breaking career, and potentially a spot in the Simpson Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I came in here freshman year not knowing the caliber of college soccer and I found myself being able to compete pretty early on,” White said. “But I never foresaw breaking a record like this.”
The senior from Decorah entered play on Sunday tied with Angel Salcido for 1st-All time for career goals at Simpson. In the 57th minute White broke a 1-1 tie with UW-Whitewater and the tie with Salcido’s record, notching his 37th career goal in the Storm red and white.
“It was a little bit of a blur,” White said reflecting on the goal. “We had a set piece just outside of the 18, and Marcus served a great ball. I found myself alone, somehow lost my mark, I don’t know if he got picked, and I put it high over the goalie and it went in.”
White later added the 38th goal to his record, netting an electrifying right-footed strike past a diving UW-Whitewater goalkeeper in the 84th minute.
Head Coach Rick Isaacson, who took the position the same year White came into Simpson, has seen White score all types of goals over for his team over the past four years, from acrobatic headers to toeing balls in from the top of the box. But unlike some players, Isaacson attributes these goals to more than just White’s athletic ability.
“What makes Mitch special is what he’s made up of internally,” Isaacson said after Sunday’s 3-1 win. “I think Mitch would tell you that a lot of his goals scored in his career have less to do with his natural ability or skill as a soccer player, and more to do with outworking the opposition and making sure to do whatever it takes to get a result.”
White mentioned his appreciation for US Men’s Soccer player, Josey Altidore, just one of many players, along with past Storm standout soccer player, Jeremy Reinert, who White has picked up some of his talent and guile from.
Teammate, and close friend, Louis Joslyn, also saw the intangible shine through in White’s game.
“He’s very opportunistic,” Joslyn said. “He’s very good when the ball is bounced around in the box. He makes sure he gets his feet on it to put it in the back of the net. He’s got some sort of quality you can’t really put a finger on. It’s some sort of intangible. He’s just a great guy and a great team leader, who works really hard at every practice.”
White’s prolific career began in 2011 when he was named team Newcomer of the Year after scoring ten goals and compiling 22 points. Things continued to ascend for White, as he put together another ten-goal season his sophomore year, and a personal season record 14 goals during his junior season.
White has also compiled two-career hat tricks, two IIAC offensive player of the week awards, a 1st-team Academic All-District award, and 83 career points, putting him third all-time in that statistical category, just six behind Salcido, the all-time leader in points.
For White though, success is measured in more than individual accomplishments and personal records.
“Looking back at my career I’ve seen so much growth in this program and that’s something the guys before me really appreciated,” White said. “As far as program wise, it’s been a great career and seeing how far we’ve been able to make it in just four years.”
Since White arrived with Isaacson to Simpson in ‘11, the men’s soccer program has taken large strides forward.
Coach Isaacson, who played collegiately at Luther College in Decorah, also coached White’s brother at Decorah High School. This familial connection helped bring White to Simpson when he was looking to get out of Norse territory in his hometown.
“Coach Isaacson coming to Simpson got me looking at Simpson,” White said. “So I visited and I saw the vision of the program was and I really thought that the program had potential with the guys he already had.”
White’s assumption was correct, as over the past four seasons the Storm have tallied a record of 40-28-4, with IIAC Tournament semifinal appearances in both 2012 and 2013.
With a guaranteed nine games remaining in Simpson’s schedule, White will have a few more chances to shine on the field, hoping to lead the Storm to their team goal of an IIAC crown and an NCAA tournament bid.
While White mentioned that soccer is somewhat a mystery after college, whether it be continued in the form of playing, coaching or by using his athletic training degree, nothing will take away White’s thankfulness for his past four years at Simpson, on and off the field.
“Honestly, I’m so grateful for this opportunity that I got at Simpson, academically, socially and soccer wise,” White said. “I can’t imagine not having this opportunity. Everything has worked out so perfectly here. It’s something that I truly do think about it, and I do realize that I fell into a perfect situation.”