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3 Northwest Arkansas basketball coaches embrace a unique bond with each other

Fayetteville’s Brad Stamps, Springdale’s Jeremy Price and Bentonville West’s Greg White have a rich history of success together and will all be competing for a state title this week
Bentonville West head coach Greg White, Fayetteville head coach Brad Stamps and Springdale head coach Jeremy Price have a special friendship after coaching together on the same staff. 

Bentonville West head coach Greg White, Fayetteville head coach Brad Stamps and Springdale head coach Jeremy Price have a special friendship after coaching together on the same staff. 

By Steve Andrews 

It was a bond that was created more than a decade ago, but a brotherhood that gets stronger every day. 

Although they battle head-to-head for that same 6A-West Conference championship each winter, the bond has never wavered for Fayetteville boys’ basketball coach Brad Stamps, Springdale coach Jeremy Price or Bentonville West coach Greg White.

The trio once battled side-by-side, helping lead Springdale to the 2014 state championship game. Stamps was the Bulldogs head coach at the time and his staff consisted of five guys who would go on to be successful head coaches in their own right.

Two of those former assistants now sit on the opposing bench for at least two games each season, but it always seems to be a reminder of the times they shared together.

“I feel like it was the best staff that you could put together,” said White. “Now, most of the stories I tell are from those times we were together. That’s the fun part for me, knowing that every time we play against each other it’s going to be close, and it’s going to be intense. Although you’re never happy when you lose a game, it is a little easier to take when it’s one of these guys.”

Fayetteville's Brad Stamps has been the head coach at his alma mater for four seasons. 

Fayetteville's Brad Stamps has been the head coach at his alma mater for four seasons. 

The 52-year-old Stamps is now in his eighth season – fourth as the head coach – at Fayetteville, his alma mater. Once an all-state player for the Purple Dogs and a part of their 1987 state championship team, he wanted to return home. 

But after landing his first head coach gig at Shiloh Christian in 2003, he began to search for an assistant. “I researched, found Greg and he came on board with me,” Stamps said. “We had a pretty good little run at Shiloh together.”

White, 45, took over as Shiloh’s head coach when Stamps eventually departed to become an assistant at the new Har-Ber High School. But when Stamps took the head-coaching job at Springdale in 2009, he offered White a job -- as the head coach at Springdale’s George Junior High.

We already had an assistant in place on the high school team, but I needed some help at our feeder programs, because I thought that was a big deal. The two “feeder” programs, George and Lakeside Junior Highs, were the younger players who would eventually elevate to Springdale High.

“We had success together at Shiloh, and you always want to capture lightning in a bottle again,” White said with a chuckle.

Around that same time, Price, a former all-state player at Springdale, was moving back to the area and became White’s assistant at George.

“When Jeremy and I were at George together, we won more games there in three years that they had in the previous seven,” White added. “When Jeremy decided to move back with his family and join us, we knew we were getting one of the best players to ever come through here, so we were excited to see him come back and kind of restart the tradition of Springdale basketball.”

Stamps utilized all his coaches, even at the junior highs, to assistant with the varsity team. He still cherishes the time they got to spend together, and work together.

“I wanted both of them back in our system, so I reached out to both of them,” Stamps said. “It was really a collective responsibility for all of us, and we just ran our program that way, from 7th grade to 12th. We traveled that way together. We coached that way together We had the same common language, so it was good.”

Jeremy Price starred at Springdale and now he leads his alma mater. (Photo by Sadie Rucker)

Jeremy Price starred at Springdale and now he leads his alma mater. (Photo by Sadie Rucker)

Currently, all five coaches from that 2014 Springdale staff are now successful head coaches. The staff included those three, in addition to Kyle Pennington (now the head coach at Little Rock Christian) and Andre Goldberg (now the head coach at Fairview High School in Colorado.)

White is the only coach West has ever had and has now racked up 253 wins as a head coach, including his first 6A-West regular season title this year. Price, 42, has been the head coach at Springdale since Stamps went back to Fayetteville in 2015. He has won 112 games as the Bulldogs leader.

With the addition to Stamps’ 269 career victories, the trio has now won a collective 634 basketball games as head coaches, all spawned from the same staff.

“We trusted each other, first and foremost, and that’s the biggest thing in this business.” Stamps said of the trio’s on-going relationships. “When you’re in the fox hole you need to have people around you that you can trust and bounce things off of, and we had that.

“First of all, I knew they were both good coaches and were good people. I felt like it would be a good blend. Really if you looked at the staff we had, all of us had a lot of things in common, but we were also different in so many ways. And that blend seemed to really mesh well together. Where I may have had a weakness, it was their strength, and vice-versa. It just worked.”

Springdale fell 89-81 to North Little Rock in that 2014 title game, finishing as state runner-up, but that did not take away from the accomplishments that they had reached together.

“People still talk about that game -- there were six players with at least 25 points that night,” Stamps said. “There wasn’t much defense, but there was some really good offense being played that game. And there was a lot of talent on the floor that night.”

The legacy of that team continues, as that was Springdale’s last trip to the state finals. Ironically, Price has been a part of both of the Bulldogs’ state runner-up finishes. He was also a player in 1998 when they fell to Little Rock Parkview in the title game.

“There was a lull in the program after we went to the finals in ’98,” Price said. “After that there was a big gap between when we were consistently successful until Brad came in and led us to the next conference championship.”

Once one of the power schools in most sports throughout the state, Springdale began to struggle in athletics with the addition of Har-Ber in 2005 – thus splitting the potential talent between the two schools.

Greg White started the program at Bentonville West and has had the Wolverines ranked No. 1 in the SBLive Arkansas Top 25 all season. 

Greg White started the program at Bentonville West and has had the Wolverines ranked No. 1 in the SBLive Arkansas Top 25 all season. 

“When the split happened, Springdale was starving for a winner, across the board, in any sport,” Stamps recalled. “And we sold that to our kids, that we could be the group that the school and community could rally behind. We could be the group that can bring some pride back in the building. 

“The other coaches in our league at that time, talked about how the atmosphere here was phenomenal. So, I’m really proud of what we did as a group when we were here.”

Stamps admits that it took some time to build that Springdale program back up to contending for a state title, but he also knew he had the right guys beside him to make it happen.

“Success doesn’t just happen overnight,” he said. “It took some time, but these guys built our feeder programs and prepared the kids we had moving up. I was here five years before we went to the state finals, but we had building toward that.”

The three coaches will be back together for this week’s 6A Regional Tournament at Rogers, but they don’t get to spend as much time together – away from basketball – as they would like to.

Stamps and Price get together for a few rounds of golf in the summer and the three try to do an occasional lunch together in the offseason, but usually it’s just staring across the court at each other. Although, they all admit that it’s a different feeling when they face off against someone so close.

“You feel happy for them when they are winning, but you hurt when they hurt,” White said of his two cohorts. “In this business it’s more than just a fraternity, because within the fraternity, you better have brothers. These are guys that you can call when times are rough, and you know they have your back. That’s what has made this group so fun and special.”

The three know each other and each other’s tendencies well enough that most games involving two of them is going to be a proverbial chess match.

“My ears are a little more in-tune playing against these guys, because when they call stuff I have an idea of what to expect, and they know the things I’m going to do,” White said with a laugh. “There are no secrets. But that’s what makes those games fun, is just going back and forth at each other.”

Price embraces the games he gets to coach against White or Stamps, and counts it as a blessing to be part of such a close-knit group.

“I always enjoy seeing them on the other bench,” he said. “When we were here together, it was a period of my career that was a lot of fun. We laughed together, we cried together, it was just a special bond we had created. So, it’s a comfort to look down there and see one of them on that other sideline.

Kyle Pennington was also on staff at Springdale High School with the three 6A-West head coaches and now leads successful 5A program Little Rock Christian Academy. (Photo by Braeden Botts)

Kyle Pennington was also on staff at Springdale High School with the three 6A-West head coaches and now leads successful 5A program Little Rock Christian Academy. (Photo by Braeden Botts)

“And when they beat you, I guess it’s not as bad because it’s a friend. It’s a lot more difficult to get beat by an enemy,” he added with a smile. “We’ve just had so many good times together that its just always fun seeing them.” 

Stamps is quick to give a lot of credit to his former assistants for the success he has had in his career.

“We had a lot of success here together, and now these guys have gone separate ways and they are successful,”: he said. “I’m proud of that and don’t mind telling people that. I don’t mind bragging on these two guys every opportunity I have. I’m not where I am today, without these two guys being a part of it.

“The bond is always going to be there. I consider these guys brothers and I always want them to do well, not just in a game, but life in general.”