Caroline White is in her 10th season as a volunteer pole vault coach for the Minnesota women's track & field team.
White has coached Gopher pole vaulters to five All-America awards and six Big Ten titles. Under her tutelage, Alicia Rue and Samantha Sonnenberg became the first Gophers to clear 14 feet during their collegiate careers.
White helped guide Sonnenberg to a Big Ten indoor title in the pole vault and a seventh place finish at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships which earned her All-American status for the second straight year. Sonnenberg also matched the school record set by Alicia Rue in 2009, clearing a height of 14 feet, 3 1/4 inches at the Tommy Twilight Meet. At Minnesota, Sonnenberg improved her best indoor mark from 12-6 to 14-1 1/4 and her outdoor mark from 12-0 to 14-3 1/4. White also coached Sonnenberg to the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, and they continue in this partnership. Alicia Rue was White's first All-American, reaching that status in 2008. Rue repeated as an All-American in 2009, with a runner-up finish at the indoor meet and a tie for third outdoors. She won three straight Big Ten indoor titles (2008, 09, 10) and an outdoor title in 2009. Rue's marks improved from 13-3 to 14-4 1/2 indoors and 13-0 to 14-3 1/4 outdoors during her time at Minnesota.
White was instrumental in Rue's gold-medal performance at the 2007 Junior Pan American Games, Laura Massey's 2006 Big Ten title, and Andrea Smith's NCAA Championships appearances in 2005 and 2008. During her first year at Minnesota, White coached Monica Stearns to the NCAA Championships and the U.S. Olympic trials (qualifying with a mark of 14-1 3/4) in 2004. Smith (12-7 to 13-5 1/4) and Stearns (12-10 to 14-1 3/4) both saw improvement under White's watch.
"She loves pole vaulting," head coach Matt Bingle said. "It's a family affair for her, with her husband coaching the men's team here as well. It's something she's very passionate about. She has a great connection with the women on the team. It's a small group because she's focused on the women pole vaulters. It gives her the ability to focus on their individual needs and to take care of them that way. I think that's a huge deal. And she just fits the mold of what we want at our university. She has a great spirit and passion about the sport."
White earned two All-America certificates in the pole vault while competing at the College of St. Benedict. She was St. Ben's Athlete of the Year in 2001 and a two-time Academic All-American. She won Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) pole vault titles in 1998 and 2001.
White graduated from St. Benedict in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in biology and earned a master's in education from St. Thomas in 2004. She currently teaches seventh grade at Maple Grove Junior High School. She completed her USATF Level 2 Coaching Certification in Jumps in 2005.
White and her husband Steve, who works with the Gopher men's pole vaulters, have two sons, Henry (5) and Emmitt (3).