Born to Fight: Angie White
Before Angie White ever stepped onto a volleyball court, she had the first fight for her life.
At just 2-days-old, White underwent surgery to correct a condition known as intestinal malrotation, which occurs when the intestines become tangled during pregnancy, causing abnormal development.
The Detroit native spent the first three months of her life in intensive care at Henry Ford Hospital, with her parent’s right by her side.
“Even in that, she was a fighter,” said White’s mother Helen Didley. “She fought the nurses, she was aggressive and demanded attention and time from them. The one thing people don’t know is she battled to live.”
Although White has no recollection of her time in ICU, she believes the thing that helped her pull through as a newborn comes from a long line of fighters in her family.
“There are a lot of strong people in my family,” she said. “We’re all fighters, it’s just in our bloodline. My grandmother was a fighter, she battled cancer. It’s just in us to fight regardless of what the situation is, whether it’s volleyball or life, we fight no matter what it is.”
Didley said watching her daughter compete for Central Michigan’s volleyball team is a triumph in itself.
“To see her now, running up and down the court is just amazing to me,” she said. “To see how God blessed her, and to watch her grow up and to see where she is now is just amazing to me.”
This season, White has had to fight once again. She was sidelined with a right ankle injury in late October right in the middle of a run for the Chippewas to qualify for the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Although the injury has kept her off the floor, the senior has used it as a teaching lesson.
“As an athlete, there’s always going to be challenges on or off the court,” White said. “It’s just a matter of how you decide to adapt to it. It’s a learning experience, and a lot of things you learn as an athlete you can apply to things outside of the sport. It’s a good experience all around.”
White is listed as questionable for her final home game as a Chippewa Thursday against Eastern Michigan. The team has two more weekends of regular season play before the MAC Tournament starts Nov. 19. If the season ended today, CMU would be the eighth and final seed.
“We’re banking on me being out there,” White said. “Regardless of whether I am or not, it’s still a great experience just to reflect on the four years I’ve been here, and know I will get to be apart of that.”
As a member of CMU’s volleyball squad, White has experienced a great deal of success. On the the offensive side of the net, White has recorded 778 kills.
On defense, White has led CMU in blocks the past two seasons, and has a career total of 371 blocks so far, with 76 of them being solos.
“She’s learned so much over these four years, and she’s a very good team player,” said White’s father, Khalid Mohamed. “She communicates with the other volleyball players well, she waits her turn and she’s a coach’s player because she does everything she’s asked to do and more.”
White has always had the privilege of looking into the stands and seeing her parents, who were born and raised in Detroit, cheering her on, something she doesn’t take for granted.
“I hear them cheering from afar, and I know they support me,” White said. “To see them here now, I just feel proud and I like making them proud because I like to see their sacrifices working out.”
Making the drive from Detroit to Mount Pleasant for nearly every home match, White’s parents also travel to watch her at various away games in places like New York, Kentucky and Florida, setting aside their own desires to support their daughter’s love for the game.
“It’s really special for me,” White said. “My mom was a teacher, and had she not retired when she did, I wouldn’t have been able to play club volleyball because of the schedule (conflictions). It was really a blessing and a big sacrifice on her part.”
Volleyball was supposed to be just for fun when White started in the eighth grade, but that quickly changed midway through high school.
“I put her in there to keep her strong and physically active and to give her something to do with herself,” Hidley said.
Since she started at a later time than most players, the learning curve was difficult for the 6-foot-2 blocker.
“I battled through a lot of things at an older age,” White said. "(I was) learning the game that other people learned years ago when they were younger, so it took me a little while to gain confidence to know that I was good at what I did.”
By 10th grade, Hidley was approached by a coach who asked if she would allow her daughter to play on a national club volleyball team.
“I didn’t realize she was so good until the coaches brought it to my attention,” Hidley said. “I agreed, and from that point on, we’ve been traveling all over the country.”
The senior middle blocker had to overcome a condition that affects one out of every 500 births in the United States, but with her mother and father guiding her, she went from battling to survive, to competing on the Division I level.
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” Hidley said. “We worked together as a team with her growing up. I always pushed her because I’m a winner, and I demanded she be a winner in life.”
That winner’s mentality Hidley instilled in her daughter at a young age expands far beyond the game of volleyball.
“I don’t believe in losing because I believe there’s no loss in life,” Hidley said. “You only gain, so even if she lost something, she gained something from that loss. Whether it was knowledge, understanding, wisdom or patience, she gained something.”
Whenever White has gotten down on herself, the words of her mother has put things back into perspective.
“My mom tells me I was a born a fighter,” White said. “As soon as I got here I started battling things, and I don’t think I’ve stopped since, so she reminds me of that all the time. When I’m having a rough day she’s like, ‘You were born a fighter, keep going.’”
Aside from her success on the court, White excels in the classroom. She has a 3.5 GPA and plans to begin a career in teaching high school English after graduation.
Because of her parents' sacrifices, earning her degree from CMU would be a symbol of gratitude.
“It would mean a lot to me,” White said. “Just because my parents worked really hard for me to get to this point. So it’s just another milestone to hit just to show them that I appreciate them.”
Seeing her daughter go from battling for her life to conquering college and accepting her degree would be a great honor for Hidley.
“I will be a happy mom,” Hidley said. “I’ve made a great accomplishment in my life to see that my children are successful and prosper in whatever they put their hands to. I believe the she has a great future ahead of her, not only as an athlete and scholar, but as a leader because from day one, I’ve taught her to lead and not follow.”
Whether it’s volleyball, teaching or something else, Hidley said White will succeed in whatever she does.
“Wherever she goes in life, I know she will be successful,” she said. “She knows who she is, and what she’s about, and ain’t no stopping us now.”