SNYDER — Coach Jeremy Tharp insists his Snyder girls' basketball team won the Class 2A state championship last year largely because of Shelby White's defensive performance.
“We put her on everybody's best player,” Tharp said.
The 5-foot-2 guard defended tall players and short players. Big players and small players. She made steals and took about eight charges in the Cyclones' three tournament games.
“Defense just is a natural thing for me,” White said.
So natural, she can play it in her sleep.
The senior guard has narcolepsy, and at random times, in any and all circumstances, falls asleep.
White's eyes stay open and she continues doing whatever she was doing, but she is actually sleeping.
There are blank spots in White's mind for just about every game she plays.
“I remember the points of the game up until where I go to sleep,” White said. “I don't remember anything from when I'm asleep.”
Tharp has learned to recognize when White falls asleep so he can get her out of the game. It's not uncommon to see White eating on the bench to get herself going again.
“It just randomly goes out,” White said. “I look like I'm completely awake, but zoned out.
“My parents used to say, ‘That's just Shelby.'”
Dr. Jonathan Schwartz at Integris in Oklahoma City diagnosed her with narcolepsy about three years ago. She sees him every six months.
All her life until the diagnosis, she slept constantly.
“We would find her asleep all over the house,” said Kahla White, Shelby's mom.
“I could tell her to go do a chore or something, and she would look at me, walk off and had no idea what I had told her to do.
“She would turn around and say, ‘I know I'm supposed to do something, but what was it?'”
Now, Shelby White alternates between taking Nuvigil and Adderall every morning for her narcolepsy.
The medication helps her get going, but she still has her moments.
“It happens quite often,” Shelby White said. “Multiple times every day.”
And it gets worse this time of year. The basketball playoffs take their toll on White's body.
“Last week was really hard on me,” Shelby White said. “I usually spend the days we don't have games sleeping as much as I can.”
Snyder opens this year's Class 2A state tournament Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Colcord at Oklahoma City University. Tharp said White's defense will once again be vital to the Cyclones' chances.
“We're defensive-based,” Tharp said. “That's our engine, and she's the sparkplug of that engine.”
White will guard some of the best players in Class 2A but will need a boost from time to time.
“I've gotten used to it,” White said. “I've accepted it. It could always be worse.”
Kahla White said, “Seeing her overcome (the narcolepsy) in basketball makes me feel better about whatever is in store for her from now on.”