River Hill's White is a magic act on and off the field

Justin White: The three-sport athlete is trying to help the boys lacrosse team win a county title, but his real talent is his slight of hand off the field.

High Schools

April 25, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

At a Five-Star basketball camp last summer in Pittsburgh, players nicknamed Justin White the "Magic Man."

They knocked on his door every night after long days of play, and begged the three-sport River Hill athlete to perform some of his card tricks.

He always obliged, creating fun and drawing crowds of up to 40 people.

"Pick a card," he'd say to one of them.

"Replace it in the deck," he'd say after the volunteer looked at the card.

Then, he'd take the entire deck and slam it against a window. As the other cards scattered to the floor, the volunteer's card reappeared - sticking face up on the other side of the window.

The crowd always reacted in amazement.

Amazing is a word many people use when describing the multitalented White, who performs at parties once a month as a magician/disc jockey.

The sophomore, straight `A' student is a defensive midfielder on the varsity lacrosse team, was a left-footed defender on the state championship soccer team until a broken foot sidelined him, and he will play point guard for the varsity basketball team next season.

"He's good at everything," said Lindsay Sullivan, a River Hill girls lacrosse player whose brother, Kyle, is one of White's best friends. "I think he's a better deejay then any we've ever had at school, and he's going to deejay our back-to-school dance next fall, which is the one that everyone goes to. He can pump some jams."

She recalls one of White's impromptu magic performances at the Columbia Gym in Clarksville not long ago that drew a crowd of 50.

"Some of the basketball players were going crazy and just running around the gym out of control after watching his tricks. It was so much fun. It was one of the best things of our lives," she said. "He's just awesome. I don't know anyone who doesn't like him."

Kyle Sullivan said he can't decide which magic trick is the best one.

"He's got so many good ones," said Sullivan through a wired-shut jaw. Sullivan is a basketball and lacrosse player who is sidelined for the season with a broken jaw suffered after being hit by a lacrosse ball.

"He's the best magician I've ever seen. I've seen him do some of his tricks hundreds of times and never seen him mess up," Sullivan said.

White said he became attracted to magic because his uncle performed tricks.

"My mom also got me to read by giving me magic books, because they were the only ones I'd read," he said.

He learns his new tricks by going to a magic shop in New York.

"Most of my tricks I learn from other magicians," said White, who never reveals the secrets behind his tricks. "I have a lot of fun doing them. It's awesome seeing other people's reactions. Everyone seems to have fun with it."

That's not totally true.

"My family is sick of watching them," he said.

His father, Willie, who owns 15 racehorses, said: "We like the new ones, and we still enjoy watching other people's faces when he does the old ones."

Justin has been a deejay for three years, and does that for the same reason he does magic - to create fun.

"One of my sister's friends was a deejay in college and sold me my first equipment," he said.

The 5-foot-10, 150-pound athlete considers soccer his best sport, because he has played that one for 10 years and he's only a second-year lacrosse player. But he's the fastest player on the lacrosse team, and that speed makes him valuable to the Hawks, who are hoping to win their first county title. They are 4-1 in league play.

"We're going to surprise some teams this season," White said. "The people on the team are awesome and fun to hang out with, and I'm playing a lot. I really like defense."

Hawks lacrosse coach Keith Gonsouland said that White's magic performances help create team chemistry and bonding.

"He performed at our preseason barbecue, and it was a lot of fun," Gonsouland said. "As a lacrosse player, he's intelligent and receptive to learning, and his speed definitely helps on our transitions."

River Hill's toughest league lacrosse game figures to come against Glenelg on May 6.

"That's when he really better pull out the magic," Justin's father said.

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