Thursday, April 11, 2013


Saddle Brook coach Darren White, 46, notched his 400th softball win Wednesday afternoon. He has taken the Falcons to three Group 1 finals.

Saddle Brook coach Darren White, 46, notched his 400th softball win on Wednesday, April 11th . He has taken the Falcons to three Group 1 finals.
Darren White is a man for all seasons. The Saddle Brook coach became the eighth softball coach in Bergen County history to reach 400 wins after his Falcons downed Hasbrouck Heights, 15-0, Wednesday. He ranks 11th all time on the North Jersey softball list.

There was a simple celebration on the Falcons’ bench to honor the milestone: cupcakes and some cheers.

“The kids probably wouldn’t even have known if they hadn’t read about it [online],” White said. “We would have liked to get it [Tuesday] against IC, but today is our sixth win of the season. I’ve just been fortunate to have good kids, good parents and good siblings.”

White, 46, is modest to a fault. He stands out in the North Jersey coaching community because of his extensive résumé and tireless work ethic. He probably was the last person in North Jersey to be a head coach in three varsity sports in the same school year.

“When people ask me how I did it then, I didn’t really think anything of it,” White said. “The rules of the summer were different back then, especially with football, and the three seasons didn’t really overlap. Then we got some good athletes, the rules changed, and things started to overlap.”

This school year, he continued serving as an assistant football coach for the Falcons (he stepped down as head coach in 2003) and also led the girls basketball program. Oh, and he also has a wife and three kids – the oldest is 13 – and runs the Bergen County softball tournament.

Somehow, he has maintained a level of success. He brought the Falcons’ football team to the brink of a sectional title a couple of times, and if you want to really get him talking (not hard to do), bring up some of the classic Glen Rock-Saddle Brook clashes. He’s also taken the girls basketball program to the sectional semifinals.

In softball, the Falcons have won five sectional titles and appeared in three Group 1 finals. They have been in the sectional semifinals for 15 straight years and have won 20 games for 16 consecutive years. He’s the last coach to lead a Group 1 school to a Bergen County final.

That type of résumé would be hard to put together anywhere, much less a Group 1 school with about 190 girls to choose from.

“We got a quote from [Mahwah coach] Craig Nielsen a while back when we had a scrimmage, and he said, ‘I don’t know how you guys do it. You guys are always competitive’” said Falcons assistant coach Charlie Hofsaes, who has been with White since 1999.

Even White allows himself a bit of satisfaction with that fact. Group 1 schools by their nature rise and fall depending on the quality of their athletes. With such a small number to choose from, sometimes the talent just isn’t there.

“I love the fact that we can take the field and we can play with a Raritan,” said White, referring to the school Saddle Brook beat Sunday. “We can compete with Ridgewood and Paramus and IHA, and we have been able to sustain that. I think that’s pretty special. I’m thrilled with how the kids have kind of carried the torch every year.”

White has several characteristics of most good coaches. Hofsaes marvels at his memory, saying that during the postgame huddle, White will go over every facet of the game in detail. When White turns to Hofsaes and asks him to add comments, it’s comical.

“It’s like, what more can I say?” Hofsaes said with a laugh.

White is well-organized and prepared, but he has a manner about him that’s calming. He doesn’t curse — well, maybe a little — but never at a player. He rarely loses his temper or yells at an umpire.

“Our last game [of each season], wherever they are, he usually gets emotional,” Hofsaes said. “He gets teary because of the seniors and spending four years with them.”

In his 19-year career at Saddle Brook, that’s one thing White has not done — win the last game. All three times he’s taken a team to Toms River for a final, the prom was held the night before, which has hampered his team’s ability to prepare.

This season, White says the prom does not fall the night before the finals, which shows you his mind-set. His Falcons are talented. They have quality pitching and a deep lineup. It will be tough to survive the North 1 section, but the Falcons will be a favorite.

And if and when White gets his elusive state title, the celebration likely won’t be as simple