Former Dayton Flyers softball standout and Northwestern High School graduate Kerry White died Tuesday at 36 at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus after an almost four-year battle with cancer.
“It’s been tough,” said Jodi Hall-Curnutte, the head coach at UD during White’s career. “Kerry kept in touch with me pretty regularly. The reality hasn’t hit.”
Hall-Curnutte said White’s family and friends want to celebrate her life, even as they grieve her death. Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced Thursday. Another friend, Eryn Eberlein, said White won the heart of everyone she met.
“I really believe some people are just too pure and good,” Eberlein said, “that this world is too much for them and they can’t last as long as the rest of us.”
White played shortstop for the Flyers from 1998 to 2002, when she graduated. She remains tied for first in the record book for career triples (11) and ranks fourth in doubles (31). She also owns the record for most career triples and RBIs at Northwestern. She threw out the first pitch before a game this spring.
Hall-Curnutte remembers her hitting a home run as a freshman against Massachusetts pitcher Danielle Henderson, who was a senior then and would go on to play for Team USA in the 2000 Olympics. No one had ever homered against Henderson. White was named to the All-Atlantic 10 first team as a freshman.
“As a young freshman, she was a carefree-type, an overachiever,” Hall-Curnutte said. “She approached every at-bat, every groundball at shortstop like it was no big deal. Nothing ever rattled her.”
White was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma in July 2012 and underwent surgery to remove the cancer before undergoing 10 months of chemotherapy. In March 2014, doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her brain. It was soon found the cancer had spread throughout her body.
White kept a positive outlook throughout her battle against cancer, Hall-Curnutte said, and didn’t want to hear any negativity. She pursued what Hall called “non-traditional” cures and researched cures on her own.
“She didn’t want people judging her,” Hall-Curnutte said. “She said, ‘This is my life. I’m going to do this.’ ”
During her fight with the disease, White earned a doctor of chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta, Ga. Eberlein met her at chiropractic school and became a close friend. She chronicled every step of White’s fight on a YouCaring.com website and helped lead a fund-raising effort that resulted in almost $20,000 in donations for helping White with her medical bills.
”I don’t even know how to explain somebody like her,” Eberlein said. “She went through the entire doctorate program with stage four cancer. She went through regular treatments. She went through chemotherapy. She went through surgery — she did it all. The whole time, she never ditched class. She never complained.”