Western's White Enjoys 'Special' Career
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
May 4, 2016
WALLED LAKE – Seeking a higher level of performance, many high school athletes have channeled their energy to one sport.
Many refer to this concentration as specialization – and Cody White, for one, isn’t buying it.
White, a junior at Walled Lake Western, is a three-sport athlete and he loves every minute of it. He plays basketball during the winter, baseball in the spring and football in the fall. During the summer he competes in AAU basketball, travel baseball, 7-on-7 football games with his Western teammates, and he participates in a few summer football camps.
White has played these same sports all throughout high school. His freshman year he competed in track and field, along with baseball. White hasn’t ruled out returning to track and field, in addition to baseball, as a senior – but this season he’s sticking with just baseball.
It’s a hectic schedule but, again, White wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I couldn’t see myself not competing in those sports,” he said. “I love them so much. I want to finish my senior year playing all three.”
White estimates that he’ll have two days off, away from sports, in June. In July he’ll take a week off, between his summer baseball team schedule ending and the start of football practice.
There’s no question White is driven, but it’s more than that. In some high schools, and with some coaches, playing multiple sports can be a challenge. There are some coaches who would prefer the students to play one sport and only one sport.
According to Western football coach Mike Zdebski, that isn’t the case at his school.
“We encourage them to play more than one sport,” Zdebski said. “For one, we want them to get their money’s worth. We have a pay-to-play policy of $425. You play one sport and it costs $425. You play three sports and it costs the same. And, two, playing other sports helps them develop other skills. In basketball you create space. In baseball you chase fly balls, and that helps with depth perception. Besides you get to work with other coaches and other teams.
“We’re lifting weights during the summer. If a kid is playing summer baseball or AAU basketball, if they have time they can come by and lift weights. And what we always tell them, if you’re tired let us know. You can take a break.”
Zdebski – whose team finished 12-1 last fall – was quick to point out some excellent athletes in the past, like former Kansas City Royals outfielder/Oakland Raiders running back Bo Jackson, who were multiple-sport athletes. And, more recently, there’s Luke Glendenning of the Detroit Red Wings. Glendenning was an all-state running back at East Grand Rapids.
When his high school career is done, White will play football in college. Two months ago he committed to sign with Michigan State this winter. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, White played receiver, defensive back and also returned kicks last fall. He played a big role in Western’s run to the Division 2 Semifinals.
During baseball season, White pitches and plays middle infield and right field. He plays the wing and shooting guard in basketball.
His interest in playing a variety of sports came at an early age and, as is the case with most children, a family member was the one who introduced White to athletics. Former NFL player and Detroit Lions executive Sheldon White is his father, but the first sport White played, at age 3, was baseball. Two years later he began playing football and basketball.
Sheldon White also played three sports at his high school in Dayton, Ohio, (Meadowdale High) and helps his son manage his busy schedule, particularly during the offseason.
“Growing up was a little different (for me) than the usual kid,” Cody White said. “Going to Lions games and just being around football all the time. I think I love the game more because I was around it so much.
“But I think playing three sports helped me, too. The twisting of your hips in baseball, when you swing the bat, you’re using different muscles. And all the jumping you do in basketball. You have to move in tight spaces.
“With football, you’re with the football guys. By doing all three you meet different people.”
Playing multiple sports has definitely been the right road for White to follow. And his busy schedule hasn’t hindered his work in the classroom.
White has a 3.54 grade-point average pending his grades for this semester.
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Cody White (right) runs away from a Midland Dow defender during their Regional Final this fall. (Middle) White works for a shot against Milford. (Photos by Teresa Presty.)
St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 29, 2023
The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.
After the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.
As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.
But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.
Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.
“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.
While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.
“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”
Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.
“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”
Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.
Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.
“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”
On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.
He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.
Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.
But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.
Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.
Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.
“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”
Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.
“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”
With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.
“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)