HOLLADAY — Olympus’ softball team played with heavy hearts and an empty coaches box at first base in Friday’s 15-0 win over Highland.
Assistant coach Wes White, the father of head coach Jackson White, passed away suddenly on Thursday at the age of 59 after suffering a heart attack on the golf course.
He was a beloved coach throughout the softball community, known affectionately as Papa Wes by his current and former players.
Olympus held a moment of silence before the game on Friday and wrote Papa Wes in chalk near the first base coaches box. Nobody from Olympus coached first base, which was Wes White’s customary spot on the diamond.
“I know a lot of us really didn’t want to play because we knew it would be so different without him, and we’re used to seeing him coach first base, but we knew he’d want us to be happy and play hard,” said Olympus’ Emma Marchant, who picked up the win on the mound.
“He’s one of those coaches that doesn’t just focus on softball, he focuses on you as a person and he always reminds us that life isn’t about just softball and that we’re so much more than that. That’s what we loved about him, he’s just like a dad to us. We know we can talk to him and he supports us in everything.”
White was involved with coaching for 35 years, most recently the past six years as an assistant coach at Olympus. He served as an assistant for his daughter Madi White who was the head coach from 2014 to 2017, and he stayed on as an assistant when his son Jackson White took over for his daughter beginning last season.
Prior to that he spent seven years as an assistant at Bountiful under Butch Latey, who said he was in total shock when he heard the news about his friend and colleague.
“I finally quit crying late (Thursday) night. I can’t even imagine what his family is going through. What a great guy. He’d do anything for anybody,” Latey said.
When White was an assistant coach at Bountiful, which included a stretch when his daughter Madi played at Bountiful, he donated a three-wheeler to the program to help with dragging the infield. Latey said that 1985 three-wheeler still runs great and is “worth a million bucks now.”
Wes White suffered the heart attack on Thursday morning at Eaglewood Golf Course in North Salt Lake. Olympus had a game on Thursday, but Olympus coach Jackson White was with his family at the hospital and missed the game.
After the game, he met with his players at the school.1 comment on this story
“He’s not a very emotional guy but all that he could say is that ‘Papa Wes passed away,’ and then he started crying and we all stood in a circle and cried together. It was a very heartbreaking moment but it was very cool to see how we were all together supporting each other in that moment,” Marchant said.
A viewing will be held on Monday at Russon Brothers Mortuary, 295 N. Main Street, in Bountiful from 6-8 p.m. The funeral is Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Bountiful Central Stake Center (640 S. 750 East).
The family asks that any former players attending the funeral please wear their old jerseys.