By BEN JOHNSON
Bo White was a hot commodity coming out of Durant High School. Schools were lining up to snag him and his football skills.
The University of Oklahoma won that battle.
But that’s where White’s journey through college athletics begins.
Shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, White decided to return home and play football at Southeastern Oklahoma State. Yet, that didn’t last long either.
“Didn’t like it there,” White said. “So I quit.”
That’s where soccer enters the equation.
“I had a buddy, Jordan Smith, at NEO (Northeastern Oklahoma College) call me up, and he told me I should try to play soccer at NEO,” White recalled. “That ended up working out.”
However, White wasn’t a Golden Norseman for long. Credit Smith for that again goes to Smith.
“Smith came to NSU and told me about him,” Northeastern State men’s soccer coach Rob Czlonka said. “I was fairly skeptical, but he came in and visited and wowed everyone.”
Now, the rest is history and White is now the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Player of the Year.
“He had a good impact last year but nothing like this year,” Czlonka said of White, who led the MIAA in goals scored this season with 13. “He started it all in [an exhibition] match against OBU with four goals.”
A luxury that White, a 6-foot, 195-pound midfielder, provides Czlonka is his ability to fluctuate from an attacking midfielder position to a shut-down defensive position.
“It’s a massive talent that he has,” Czlonka said. “We started him more as an attacking player and he was scoring a couple of goals here and a couple there.”
NSU had a problem, though. The RiverHawks began allowing too many goals midway through the season.
No problem, Czlonka said. He just moved White to the back line to play defense.
“We weren’t very secure across the back line and the defensive midfield area,” Czlonka said. “So we moved him back one game and he just clicked into it right away. We posted a shutout and then another shutout.”
A shutout — or something close to it — will be what the RiverHawks (12-4-3) will be looking for as they prepare to host Fort Hays State (11-5-2) in the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament on Friday night at 7 p.m. at DeLoache Field.
“Fort Hays has become our conference rival,” said Czlonka, whose team went 5-0-1 at home this year. “We see them out recruiting and everywhere else.
“Both times we’ve played them, we’ve been unlucky in the result. But I’ve been pleased with the way we’ve played.”
In two matches against Fort Hays State this season, NSU went 0-1-1, tying 1-1 at home and losing 3-2 in Hays, Kan.
“We have a good chance to win,” Czlonka said. “We just have to be very, very good on that final touch before putting it in the back of the net.
“We just need to get on a roll if we want to make any kind of NCAA tournament run. We just have to get on a roll and ride it.”