ROCKVILLE — You can’t get much farther away from Solano County than Fort Kent, Maine, and still be in the continental United States.
Necole White of the Solano Community College women’s basketball team learned a little bit about the Pine Tree State while being recruited to play for the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
“This is how I knew it was cold (there). When I was looking on the internet and saw they had a dog sledding team,” said White, though she meant the Can-Am International Sled Dog Race, which is held annually in Fort Kent and is a qualifier for the Iditarod. “Dog sledding? I never heard of that in my life, so I knew it had to be cold.”
But still a nice place to go to school, at least according to James Givens, a former Fairfield High and Solano basketball player who’s a member of the Maine-Fort Kent men’s team.
“He told me it was fun, he let me know it would be a great experience for me,” said White, a Vallejo High grad. “What the heck, why not? I’ve never been on East Coast before. I decided to get the experience.”
And the Bengals got themselves a feisty 5-foot-5 point guard who helped lead the Falcons to one of their best seasons ever in 2013-14 – and one who’s had to deal with adversity to earn her trip back east.
“Actually it feels good,” White said. “I didn’t think I could do that, it’s just amazing.”
“For two years she was our vocal leader, our energizer,” Falcons coach Matt Borchert said. “Whether she started or came off the bench (she gave it her all), she hustled big time, . . . She has a real passion for the game. She needs the game of basketball in her life. It’s great to see her move on.”
White went though the highest of highs and lowest of lows at Vallejo, helping the then Apaches win a Sac-Joaquin Section championship as a sophomore in 2009-10 before going 3-23 as a senior.
White’s coach her first two years was the beloved Jim Capoot, an officer with the Vallejo Police Department who was killed in the line of duty in 2011.
“It was tough for me,” White said of Capoot’s death. “He was father figure for me, motivating me to do what he wanted me to do, to go to college and keep playing basketball.”
According to Borchert, White didn’t make the Solano squad out of high school but “we had some issues numberswise” and the Falcons brought her in.
“She was a full-time starter by January,” the coach said. “She led us in 3-point shooting.”
An infusion of talent forced White to the bench in 2013-14, but she made the most of her reserve role, getting into 31 games with one start, finishing seventh on the team at 5.0 points per game, 6.1 in Bay Valley Conference play, and also averaged 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals.
The Falcons wound up going 26-5 with a school-record 18-game winning streak, all of which White is proud to have been a part of.
“it was fun, it one of the best seasons I ever had,” White said. “I didn’t expect me and teammates to be this close but we are. I’m glad I had chance to play with them.”
White joins fellow sophomores Ariel Clay (Holy Names), Taylor Hamilton (Our Lady of the Lake) and Denisha Lundy (St. Gregory’s) in moving on.
The other school in the mix for White was Bethany College of Lindsborg, Kans.
“It seemed like they wanted me more,” White said of Maine-Fort Kent. “They showed more attention, that really wanted me, so I decided to go there.”
“I know it’s going to be so cold,” White said. “I don’t think I’m ready. I love the sun. I love California. It’s going to be an experience. I’ve never been to the snow before.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.