The El Paso, Texas swimming community is mourning the loss of a legend earlier this week, as longtime Cathedral El Paso and El Paso Aqua Posse coach Jack White passed away on Monday at the age of 56. While no official cause of death has been released, KVIA ABC El Paso has reported White suffered a stroke.
White began coaching at Cathedral in 1985 as an assistant coach and the next year was promoted to head coach at just 21 years old. He built the boys-only school into a West Texas powerhouse, winning 31 TAPPS and TCIL private school state titles.
In addition to his work with Cathedral, White also worked with the El Paso Aqua Posse as its senior coach, where he guided multiple swimmers to the Olympic Games for the Mexican National Team and had multiple swimmers qualify for the USA Swimming Olympic Trials in 2000. EPAP has consistently been the top club program in USA Swimming’s Border LSC, one of the nation’s smallest LSC’s.
For his efforts and success White was inducted into the El Paso Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. At the time of his induction White’s Cathedral teams held an all-time dual meet record of 279-1.
Several of his fellow coaches and former athletes remembered him in interviews with the El Paso Times yesterday. Former El Paso High School coach Dow Farley said, “Coach White was a good man. He was a fierce competitor and will be missed by so many.” Polly Parry, the Franklin High School head coach said, “Jack was a great person and dedicated to the sport of swimming.”
Current Northwestern senior All American Miriam Guervara, who swam for White at the Aqua Posse said, “I never said thank you enough to coach White. He always had a way of making myself and others feel better even when we were having hard days. He had a great sense of humor. Coach White was a great coach but more important[ly] he was a wonderful person who cared for people and did everything he could to help you.”
Xavier Navarrao, a former EPAP and Cathedral swimmer who swam collegiately for Incarnate Word, said, “He was the person who brought me to the next level in swimming. He wasn’t a man of many words, but when he did speak it was always a truthful and empowering speech or comment. I really liked that he would give me an honest comment when I didn’t perform at my best at a race. It was truly special when he would give a speech before a meet or at our high school banquets. I used to swim at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and that was all because of him. I got to the goals I wanted to reach because of him and I will always be inspired by his work ethic. His memory will stay in my heart as a great man, coach and teacher. Thank you for everything coach White.”
In addition to his work as a coach, White was a social studies teacher at Cathedral before retiring from teaching three years ago. He was an El Paso native who attended and swam for El Paso’s Eastwood High School before becoming a teacher and coach in the area.