On 28 April 2013, a skinny kid ran into the huddle of an Under 17 game in Reading with just a weeks practice at Quarterback behind him. Wearing a black, number seven Thrashers jersey, he checked into the game. Five and a half years, 74 appearances and ninety two touchdowns later, that skinny kid is checking out of the game as a Seahawk for the last time.
Quarterback Bruin White was just about the youngest player in the whole BAFA league on that day back in April, as he started his first game at QB a day after his fourteenth birthday. Not due to any savant-like potential - the youth team back in 2013 was a very different beast to what it has become today - Bruin was one of two players vying for the position that season, and both young passers had been dropped in the deep end.
As the season wore on, White established himself as the starter - the team went 0-12, and took some heavy defeats at the hands of more experienced opposition, but White’s play showed promise. By the time the season ended, White had a handful of TD passes to his name, and along with fellow rookies Matt Payne, Sas Sarreshteh and Ollie Maskell there was a core of talent to build on in 2014.
The next year saw steady improvement, the team’s first win and a debut in the playoffs - and White scored the youth team’s first ever defensive touchdown when he went in on defense and forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone for the winning score against the London Warriors.
The breakout year came in 2015. Bruin had grown both physically and mentally, and was running the youth and junior offenses at this point. While he was finding his feet in the U19 game, he was setting the league alight at youth level. By the time the season was over - this time finishing with a fifth placed nationwide ranking and an appearance at BritBowl for the first time - Bru had thrown for 36 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Bru looks back at that 2015 wild-card tournament in Cornwall, and lists it among his top moments in a Solent jersey, and with good reason - the QB led the team that day to a 3-0 record without committing a turnover.
In 2016, whilst leaving almost every game in the second half to give game time to rookie talent Louis Benzey, Bru threw for 31 scores and lead the youth to a second consecutive BritBowl appearance, a perfect regular season record of 12-0 and also executed a now-or-never drive to finally beat the Cornish Sharks with a last second TD pass to WR Michael Phillips. At the youth level, White had developed into one of the best young QB’s in the game. He led the team to a perfect regular season record and the club’s first division championship.
A second consecutive trip to the National finals saw the team listed as one of the favourites to win it all, but a talented Cobham team pipped Solent in the first game to end those hopes. In the second game that day, Bruin led the number two seeds past a tough Kent Exiles team, passing for three touchdowns (seven on the day to one interception) in driving rain - another of the Quarterbacks favourite performances. Ask him sometime about his back shoulder TD pass to Tom Moore - just make sure you have twenty minutes to spare.
The junior team in 2016 had also begun to develop. White, returning as the starter, threw a 50 yard TD on his first pass attempt of the year. Better club structure had allowed the U19’s to be competitive in nearly every game, and they beat the South London Renegades in a comeback win, whilst going toe-to-toe with the Warriors and East Kent.
The growth of the junior team in 2017 saw a first visit to the post-season for the junior team and culminated in a victory in the Southern Trophy game; and in 2018 the Seahawks would go on to win that Southern Trophy again. White leaves the club as a Quarterback that has captained teams to a fifth-place ranking, a sixth -place ranking and two consecutive trophy years.
As the chapter closes on Bruin’s time at the club, he looks back at what the club, and football has meant to him;
“Without the Seahawks, I would likely not be playing football. Any other clubs around my area have failed to ever enter an U19 team into the league during my playing time - besides Farnham of course, but that was never preferable. U17 teams around the area were always sub-par and poorly managed, forfeiting games regularly, so I don’t suppose I would have gained the same amount of playing experience as I have here at Solent. I also feel that the coaching I’ve received at the Seahawks has been superior to other teams’ in the area. While having been cycled through four different Offensive Coordinators in four years of junior eligibility has been a struggle in many aspects, it’s also been a blessing too - I’ve learned how to run multiple playbooks and been taught different things by the different coaches over the years”
He leaves with a bundle of team records that may never be beaten. Most touchdown passes in a career (90), most touchdown passes in a youth season (36), most total appearances (74), and most seasons played (6). What are not always appreciated are the intangibles.
“It would’ve been so easy for him to quit” says Head Coach and father, Marc White. “Bru has been one of those guys that will be at practice, rain, snow and sun, whatever. He has only missed half-a-dozen practices in six seasons, and when we only had six or seven players turning up to practice in 2014 and 2015, Bru was always one of them. He took some beatings in those early years too - 40, 50 point defeats, receivers that couldn’t catch or even run… linemen and backs that wouldn’t block… I’ve seen kids walk away from the game for far less, because things don’t go their way. Thankfully, Bru isn’t that sort of guy - there’s not one ounce of ‘soccer-player-mentality’ in him.”
While the young quarterback appreciates that coaching and positive discipline that football and the Seahawks have given him over his transition from that skinny kid to the young man he is today, he might not be aware of what he has given back to the club - it’s fair to say that the Seahawks may be a different looking club altogether had it not been for the grit and determination shown by a few players to work through those tricky seasons in ’13 and ’14.
Bruin will suit up for the Solent Redhawks in the 2019 BUCS season, joining ex-academy players Adam Hillier, David Pepper, Ash Sarreshteh and Jake Allsop. As one of six Redhawks QB’s going into the season, the Seahawks number five has his work cut out to be the Redhawks number one. Something that White Senior thinks he can achieve… “He’s a six year starter at youth and junior - not many university programmes will have that kind of experience to add to their offense this year. He’s been a fantastic player and leader for our club over the years - he just needs to translate what he has learnt to the next level. Personally, I’ll miss the talks we used to have in the car on the way to and from practice. We used to discuss what were the best plays to call, how to identify pass coverages, what to do against this team and that team. It’ll be strange not having him around when we start our 2019 practices - I will look forward to being able to go and watch him as a parent/fan though - I just have to figure out how to turn my ‘coach mode’ off!“
Time for that skinny kid to run into somebody else’s huddle now.