Leading up to the 2008-09 ETSU women's basketball season, the ETSU media relations office, with help from graduate assistant Lindsay Christensen, will feature player profiles on all 12 of the Lady Buccaneer student-athletes. This new segment allows fans to catch a glimpse of what each player is doing off the court, as the Lady Bucs look to make a run at their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
When Gwen Washington left her home in Manassas, Va., she had a pretty good idea what she was getting into. She left her home town as the highest scorer in the Stonewall Jackson High School history and was also a McDonald's All-American nominee. The post player was a former regional and district Player of the Year, and she now arrived to Johnson City as a freshman on a defending Atlantic Sun Championship team.
Washington, a business major with a psychology minor, is settling into college life six hours from home. As a freshman, she is focusing on basketball, doing well in her classes, and having fun. Though there are obvious changes since high school, she feels that her coach at Stonewall Jackson did an excellent job preparing her for college. Even though Washington's coached prepared her for this next step, the Manassas, Va. native knows playing at the Division I level will have some challenges.
"Even though my high school coach taught us how to be discipline and other aspects outside of the game, I know playing at a higher level will be difficult at first," said Washington.
Gwen's dream is to continue playing basketball for as long as she can. She understands the importance of college, but when she finishes, she would like to play either in the WNBA or oversees.
"I'd probably rather play in the WNBA, so I could be closer to home," she says, "However, I would go anywhere, as long as I could keep playing."
Washington does have a few back-up plans, but for now, she plans to work as hard as possible to stay in basketball beyond her life as a Lady Buc.
Some other future endeavors Washington is considering are coaching or owning her own company - possibly a clothing line. However, nothing is set in stone for this young student-athlete, who plans to enjoy the road ahead of her before making any final decisions.
"I'm just having a good time, playing ball and going to class," said Washington. "After my four years I will have my plan set, and even if the WNBA doesn't work out, I will know where my talents and strengths are best suited for something else."
When she is not in class, playing, lifting, or running, Washington spends a lot of time with her roommates, who are also her teammates.
"We play a lot of Rock Band," she said. "I am a pro guitar player!"
Washington and her teammates also enjoy movies and eating together. The bond which has formed between her and the rest of the team enforces Washington's original reason for coming to ETSU.
"They treated me like family right from the beginning and I liked the connections that were formed with me and the coaching staff."
With Washington's incredible passion and obvious talent, there is no doubt she will leave her mark here at ETSU - just as she did at Stonewell Jackson.