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.

This profile features Emilie Gilbert ’13, a sophomore basketball player and runner.

Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
Major: Economics and Math
Expected Graduation Date: 2013
Favorite activities at Whitman: Basketball, Cross Country, Piano, Admission “A-Team” and Track Club

How’s the season going?
The season has gotten off to a great start.  Our pre-season was very successful, winning both the Whitman Classic and the Kim Evanger Raney Memorial Classic. The team is different than last year because we have so many rookies. The upperclassmen are really stepping up and leading the team; making sure everyone knows the system. Playing on the road almost the entire pre-season has really helped the team bond, so everyone is having a blast, both on and off the court.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of life as a student athlete?
The best part of being a student athlete is getting to be a part of a tight-knit group, which is really like your family on campus.  The most challenging aspect is missing class when we go on the road. While you can get notes from a friend, it does not replace hearing the lectures first-hand. We do take time during our trips to do homework on the bus or at the hotel and professors are very accommodating and understanding in allowing us to makeup work. 

What makes Whitman athletics unique?
Whitman, being such a small community, helps ensure student athletes are incorporated into the rest of the campus and students and faculty do a great job of supporting us.

What has your greatest sports moment been? 
My highlight so far was running at nationals with the cross-country team last year. That experience was so valuable because it showed me what the goal should be for every season and it motivated me to run better this season. The senior girls on the team had worked hard for four years to get there, I was so fortunate to be a part of that experience as a freshman. Going to the national championships is the ultimate goal for all our sports teams, and now I know it is possible to get there. 

Why did you choose to attend Whitman? 
I chose Whitman because not only does it have outstanding academics, but you feel like the college community cares about the whole person. From a sports perspective, during my senior year of high school I came to the realization that I was not ready to give up basketball or running, so I just had to find a college that would let me do both. Whitman wants you to succeed in everything you are passionate about, so it was the ideal place for me to get an outstanding education, continue piano lessons and play two sports. I am so fortunate to have coaches who understand and work together so I can accomplish my goals in both sports, as well as professors who accommodate for the class time I miss, due to away meets and games. I also love Walla Walla’s small town environment. It is such a beautiful place to run and go to school.   

What has been your biggest learning experience at Whitman, either in the classroom or on the court? 
My biggest learning experience on the court has been to never settle, always get better. Before every game coach always says, “It’s all about getting better.” We always need to be looking to play at the next level. If we can improve throughout the season, we will continue to win games, and hopefully make it to the NCAA tournament. In the classroom, I have learned that there is more than one perspective in learning, and that having people from diverse backgrounds can enhance knowledge through discussion. 

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Whitman is a great community to be a part of academically and athletically. I have the best teammates and coaches a student athlete could ask for. Playing two sports, everyone is so supportive and I just feel so fortunate to have such wonderful friends and coaches.