By John "Woods" Armwood III
The Alabama native, Riley White, knows nothing else but the state of Alabama her whole life. Many may recognize her from Tik Tok, however, she’s so much more than that. She grew up in Hoover, Alabama, and went to a college located 45 minutes outside of Hoover, University of Alabama. The daughter of Sean and Chris White began getting involved in sports at the age of three. It all started with classes White and her mother took called “Mommy and Me” where there were obstacle courses set in place for them to complete mixed in with gymnastics. Ultimately, leading White into finding an interest and soon-to-be passion for gymnastics.
Many athletes tend to have a hard time finding what they’re good at but not Riley. The main reason why gymnastics seems to stick so well is that it came so naturally to her.
“My mother, Chris White, cheered and my father, Sean, played football in high school,” White stated during the Sh3GotGame Interview. “You could say I have good family genes.”
Riley White’s Abnormal Childhood
Most children while playing sports play to have fun and to stay active. White learned at a very early age what it meant to compete at a high level. When she was seven years old she started doing gymnastics with TOPs (Talent Opportunity Program). In fact, while other children were playing at recess or gym, White would be getting excused to go train with her trainer for gymnastics. Not many young children are waking up before school training and then during lunch or gym class training, as well. White emphasized when she was younger she had access to a balance beam and bar in her house.
“Not many believe me when I tell them I did two-a-days in elementary school,” White emphasized.
While the sport of gymnastics seemed to be the most fruitful at the time, White dealt with a ton of turmoil while pursuing gymnastics. She rarely ever finished any gymnastic season healthy without suffering all sorts of injuries. Essentially, she realized this was sustainable and her body couldn’t withstand this for another four years at the next level. Naturally, she pivoted in a different direction, and while she received push back from family and friends. White made it clear she doesn’t regret her decision whatsoever.
Transitioning from Gymnastics to Track and Field
White thought the big picture and understood the life she was living was unsustainable going forward. However, her father emphasized she doesn’t have the luxury to sit around the house and be unproductive. As a result, she began coaching as a gymnast. Ultimately, this wasn’t as fulfilling as she thought it would be, she attempt to shift her focus toward track and field. While most get to choose the event they wish to run in, White was pretty much given her event. She spoke to the high school track coach at the time and he granted her access to try out for pole vaulting.
Naturally, she returned and cleared eight feet in her first day ever pole vaulting. White was offered a spot on the team shortly after. Later that season, she went on to clear 10 feet and she couldn’t pf been happier.
“I went out for track to try to gain some of my athletic feels back, however, when I tried out I cleared eight feet my first day,” explained White. “Later that season, I followed that up by clearing 10 feet.”
In a short time, White managed to make an imprint on the track world. The strides White made seem improbable to many eyes. Within a matter of months, she placed third in states during the indoor season. However, she followed this up by winning states just a few months later during the outdoor season. The opposing coach said something to her after she came in third during the indoor states meet. White recalls the coach almost being condescending towards her after placing third. The comment fired her up after and stuck with her all throughout training until she was given an opportunity to prove him wrong.
“The coach walks up to me and proceeds to tell me ‘Maybe next time’” White emotionally stated.
Riley White’s “Sh3GotGame” Moment
During her junior year of college, she had her personal all-time season. However, her “Sh3GotGame” moment came from the process to get to where she was able to get. In 2020, the infamous COVID-19 season affected everyone differently. White admits it was difficult for her mentally and physically as she put on a few pounds.
“The COVID-19 season played a huge reason why my junior season was special,” White admits. “I struggled mentally and physically. However, I pushed myself to new limits and taught myself something new about myself.”
That offseason going into her junior year, ironically, she cut out dairy from her diet to help her eczema. While it helped, it did even more great things. White began to see results of her becoming leaner and she was completing every workout under the sun. Ultimately, this hard work and dedication allowed her to be in the best shape of her life. She was rewarded an invite to the SECs and set her own personal record. The biggest thing she took away from the moment was proving to herself she can always do more.
Eliud Kipsang runs a 1:47.20 in his first collegiate 800m to win the event by 3 seconds!— Alabama Track & Field (@AlabamaTrack) April 10, 2021
That was the 9th-fastest time in Alabama history💥#CTI2021 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/ugCLI9PGDR
White’s Expertise in Turning the Page
As we know now she’s transitioned from gymnast to a coach. Then from coach to back to athlete in the track field. She flourished and every aspect she’s participated in and has put the work in to be considered an expert. However, she also realizes that her journey is her journey and she wouldn’t regret it at all. Throughout the interview, WHite reflects and truly thinks about how thankful she is for track and field. She emphasizes how it helped her confidence and work ethic and ability to see her hard work translate into greatness.
Anytime White has faced adversity she often tells herself, “Turn the page”. She explained that she takes her time allowing herself to embrace the feelings and then tomorrow is another day. White admires the mindset of “Turning the page” because it allows her to appreciate the small things and move on easier.
“When I’m having a tough day, I like to appreciate the smaller things,” White emphasized. “Sometimes a simple turning of the page makes all the difference.”
White Proves to Make History
White just continues to make history on and off the field! While preparing for life after college, she has been rewarded the first class of WWE NIL (name, image, likeness) deals. Familiar faces like the famous Cavinder twins were also featured in the first class of athletes. However, it’s safe to say there is a high possibility after her track days are over the WWE may be a possibility.
“I’m excited for what comes next regarding the WWE or any other opportunities,” stated White.
I’m #NextInLine. Excited to join @wwe as part of the #WWENIL program! @WWE @WWERecruit pic.twitter.com/SGvPq3anoC— Riley White (@white_riley) December 8, 2021
In conclusion, to close the interview White was asked if there was any advice she’d like to leave any younger boys and girls that may resonate with her journey, she responded:
“If you have a goal, definitely write it down and break your goals up into social, athletic, and mental goals. After you establish your goals, the next step is to write the steps down to establish your personal goals. No matter what, always go all in and never let anyone’s hate or negativity hold you back. Maybe it works out or maybe it doesn’t but you will never feel the worst feeling in the world and that’s regret.”
“Always be open-minded and enjoy the little things always,” White continued.