Acceptance Is: Embracing Your Potential

#everyoneissomeone text over a photo of Trisha Perry with her award

Meet Coach Anthony White

At 5:00 a.m. on any given weekday, even the most dedicated student-athletes are still sound asleep.  

Growing up in working-class East L.A. County, Anthony White didn’t have that luxury.  

Every day before sunrise, he would grab his backpack and head to Rosemead High School – not for class, but for his job. 

He was employed by the local school district to clean the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and gymnasium – the very same facilities he used every day as a varsity athlete. 

It was a responsibility steeped in humility for young Anthony, who was captain of the football team, four-year captain of the track team, and a basketball player. 

“By 7:00, I would act like I had just gotten to school because, at the time, I was embarrassed to tell my friends I cleaned the bathrooms because our family needed the money,” he explained. “We’d try to shoot baskets into the trash can. And someone would miss, and I remember thinking, ‘Man, you better pick that up because if not, I’m gonna have to pick it up tomorrow.’” 

It’s also a responsibility he embraced because of mentors who helped remind him of his full potential. 

“Growing up in the neighborhood I grew up in, there were so many people that pushed me to become greater than what they would’ve done, or should’ve done, or could’ve done if they had the same opportunities as me,” said Coach White. 

Early on, he began giving back through sports, starting with his own family. 

“I had two younger brothers and a younger sister, so I worked a lot with them coaching their teams with various youth organizations,” said Coach White. 

Today, as the head football coach at Santa Ana College, he knows his most important responsibility is to help his athletes accept themselves while also pushing their limits. 

“Finding potential in others is my number one job as a coach,” he said. “You have to see what that student-athlete can become, both on and off the field.” 

And it’s his priorities off the field that matter most to Coach Anthony White. 

“I was a very successful high school coach, won the championship, did a good job, and then cold turkey stopped coaching,” said Anthony. “And that’s because my daughter was born. A lot of people ask, why did you step down? And I tell them I didn’t step down. I stepped up to be the best husband and the best father I could be.” 

It took 21 years for Coach White to meet his own father, who reached out after watching Anthony on ESPN. 


“Finding potential in others is my number one job as a coach, you have to see what that student-athlete can become, both on and off the field.”

“Because of that, one of my biggest goals is to coach the person and not the player,” he said. “I want you to be the best husband and father in the future. In the present, you need to be the best son, the best student, and the best friend you can be.” 

In 1998, before playing at the University of Utah, Anthony White became the fourth male national winner of the Heisman High School Scholarship. 

Winning the award affirmed all the hard work, including the investment of his mentors, to reach his potential. 

“I was being recruited by a lot of Division 1 programs, so I wasn’t really looking for scholarships,” said Coach White. “But this was different. This was about who’s the most well-rounded student-athlete in America. That’s what I wanted to prove to myself. And it’s an award that’s kept on giving through so many years.” 

Today, all Heisman High School Scholarship applicants take the Acceptance Pledge, a promise to treat others with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves. 

To Coach White, it’s a powerful reminder to seek out the potential in yourself and others. 

“Nobody says rainbows are beautiful because they’re all red or they’re all blue, or they’re all green,” he said. “They’re beautiful because of the diversity of the colors. And the same thing could be said in our classrooms and locker rooms. The beauty of diversity – that’s what the pledge is about to me.” 

Take the Acceptance Pledge for yourself today at 

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