May 28, 2009
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One of two seniors and the only fifth-year senior on the roster, outfielder Jonathan White has taken a leadership role on Vanderbilt's young squad this season. A workout warrior who has won the team's annual Omaha Challenge the past three years, White is regarded as one of the fastest and most athletic players on the team. Last season the Shelbyville, Tenn., native finished second on the team with 11 stolen bases. While a lot of players spring at the opportunity the first time they are drafted, White did not. Instead of signing with the Milwaukee Brewers after being selected in the 24th round in 2007, White stayed in school and graduated in May with a degree in social dynamics of psychology and sociology. One of White's many hobbies off the field is poetry. He has written more than 50 poems and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
On the growth of the team over the season
We have come together pretty well. We are finally getting some confidence. We had our struggles in the beginning, but guys are really stepping up, and the guys who were freshmen are sophomores now.
On his increased responsibility as a senior leader
I, along with Nick Christiani, Andrew Giobbi and Brian Harris, take it as our responsibility to take the younger kids and make them feel comfortable. We want them to focus on the game one pitch at a time and not worry about the surroundings, regardless of where we are playing at.
On being the oldest player on the team
It is kind of surreal. I come to the locker room and the freshmen call me "Grandpa." They always joke around with me about how long I've been here. It is a good situation being a veteran player. I feel like I was only a freshman a few years ago because it really flies by. I've embraced the role. I love teaching and seeing the guys look up to me. It motivates me to be a better leader.
On returning to Vanderbilt after being drafted in 2007
It was a pretty tough decision, but first of all, I wanted to get my degree. I knew if baseball was in the cards, I could do it later on. My motivation coming back this year as a fifth-year player is to take this program where it has never been. We haven't been to a super regional or Omaha and those were my No. 1 goals coming back. I just wanted one more shot at that.
On growing up in Shelbyville, Tenn.
It is a decent sized community, but it has a small-town feel where everyone knows everyone. When I go back home, it is like I never left. It was a great place to grow up. I love the small-town atmosphere.
On being able to play baseball in his home state
It has been unbelievable. I love playing games and having my family up in the stands. When we play games on T.V., my family can watch me. It is a good feeling because you have all the support in the world and you have people always watching you and wanting you to succeed.
On getting into poetry
When I was younger, I always liked to read and was real introspective. I was the kid who sat on the side and just watched things. When I was younger, I was just naturally good at writing, and over the years it evolved into me being interested in poetry.
On writing poetry
I've probably written 50 or so poems. I usually write during the offseason. When I have spare time, I like to collect my thoughts and there is no better way to do that than sitting down and writing a poem. It puts everything in perspective.
On the poet he enjoys reading most
I gravitate toward William Shakespeare a lot. To me, poetry is timeless and although I never knew Shakespeare, I could read his poems and get put in a situation where I can read what he is talking about. To me, that is just the beauty of it.
On his interest in reading
When I'm not playing, I'll try to read as much as I can. I don't really like fiction because I want to learn something. If I want to know something, I'll just go the library and read books about the subject so I can learn it and further my knowledge of something.
On winning the Omaha Challenge the last three years
I'll have to pass the torch next year. The guys call me "Grandpa," but they can't beat me in Omaha Challenge, so I must be doing something right. It is just bragging rights. On a team, everything is competitive and you just want to have the bragging rights and no one can take that away from me.