Lisa White has been a constant presence at Cross Creek since the school opened in 1999, though her softball buckets haven’t always lasted that long.
“I have calmed down,” White joked. “I used to kick a lot of buckets. I realized as far as my health I had to calm it down.”
White has been Cross Creek’s softball coach since the school first opened its doors almost two decades ago. After 30 years of coaching and teaching across the area, she’s set to retire at the end of this school year.
The veteran coach has been an Augusta-area staple among the athletic community for years. After earning a basketball scholarship and playing at Augusta College, she started her coaching and teaching careers in the middle school ranks in Augusta.
After a couple stints at area middle schools, she took over the Butler softball program in the mid-1990s. After two seasons as head softball coach and a girls basketball assistant, she made the move to Cross Creek to help start the softball and girls basketball programs as head coach.
“I was at Butler and I was happy there, but I said let me try Cross Creek,” White said. “I don’t regret it. Cross Creek is a great school, great administration, great kids. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
White gave up basketball after three seasons to focus on softball, and it proved to be a valuable decision. She grew the program into a perennial contender and helped build Cross Creek’s softball facility into one of the area’s best. The Lady Razorbacks went on to notch region championships in 2002 and 2011, and they reached the Elite Eight in 2001 and 2011.
Beyond the annual success, White has used softball to teach life skills to youth athletes.
“A lot of schools don’t even practice during summer, and I’m constantly up here cutting grass, pulling weeds, dragging the field,” she said. “I try to teach my girls that it’s not just about softball. I try to teach them how to become accountable, responsible, develop into young ladies. Yes, I like to win, but there’s more to it than just softball.”
White’s final season began on an eventful note Thursday by rallying from a run down in the 10th inning to beat Screven County 7-6. She was all smiles after the game, soaking in every moment during her last year and confident that this year’s team has the talent to make it memorable.
“I think this is the most I’ve been excited for the last four or five years, and it’s just because I know we have the talent and I know we have the heart to do it,” she said. “Not because it’s my last year, but because we have talent and we have heart.”
She doesn’t plan to go far after she retires. She’s already talked to the school about being an occasional substitute teacher in the future. She also plans to travel more, such as her trip to Italy taken last summer.
She knows it won’t be easy to leave what she’s built, but she also knows that the time has come.
“I’m sure I’m going to miss it. It may be hard. There’s always a 1 percent chance I’ll be back,” White said with a smile.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216