First Person: Josh Duckworth

First Person is a series of student profiles designed to share a glimpse of the wide and varied interests of Whitman students.  While all Whitman students share the experience of the college’s focus on academic rigor and excellence, their diverse interests and activities vary greatly outside of the classroom.  The series provides a snapshot of the lives of students across campus, from the athletics venues to the theater stage, the chemistry labs, Ankeny Field and beyond.

Meet Josh Duckworth, a first-year basketball player and pre-law major from Los Angeles.

How’s the season going?
So far the season has been a rollercoaster. We started off strong with two consecutive wins, then lost a few really close games. Recently we won a game against a great Division II team. I believe that our team is beginning to come into its own, and we are realizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If we adopt Coach Bridgeland’s basketball mentality, I have no doubt that we will be an elite team during the season and playoffs. 

What are the best and most challenging aspects of life as a student athlete?
Ironically, I believe that best thing and the most challenging thing about being a student athlete is our busy schedule. I enjoy the fact that I have something to do, so my focus stays in two main areas, school and basketball. While this is great, I have a few friends who aren’t student athletes and they have so much time to do any of the activities they desire. This is a luxury I don’t have, but I have been accustomed to this all my life.

Why did you choose to attend Whitman?
I chose Whitman for its academics, the determination of Coach Bridgeland, to be a part of something special and to take a break from city life.

Josh Duckworth
Josh Duckworth ‘14 jumps for a basket during a recent game. Photo credit: Ethan Parrish

What makes Whitman athletics unique?
The main reason I came to Whitman, besides the incredible athletics, is because of Eric Bridgeland. I had a few other offers on the table, but when he sat down with my mom and me and started talking about the direction he is headed in and the direction that he wants Whitman basketball to head, I saw a fire in his eyes that I have never seen in any coach who talked to me. It is true that Whitman athletics in the past hasn’t matched well with some other schools, but then I asked myself the question, “Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of helping make something special?” I believe that is why I am here.

What has your greatest sports moment been?
My greatest sports moment came when we played Division II NAIA team, Menlo College, in a great game. We had at least three games this year in which we were up at halftime and played relaxed in the second half and lost. This game unfortunately was no different, except for the outcome. We were up by three against Menlo at half. Second half with about five minutes to go we were down by 10, and that is when we started our run. Everyone on the team was into the game, everyone was contributing, the fans were loud and so into it and we snatched the lead from Menlo with just a minute left to hold onto the win. That game showed us that we have what it takes to win close games. We have all the pieces; we just need to put them in the right spots.

What has been your most significant learning experience at Whitman, either in the classroom or on the court?
I believe that it has come from the returning players on the team. I have always been used to leading a group of guys, and for the first time I find myself trying to follow. They have been here a couple years and clearly have a better understanding of Coach Bridgeland’s coaching style, so I make sure to ask them questions and always keep my ears open. In the end this will only make me a better leader.