Sports

Falcon standout Josh Gulvin: Taking the hard road

Josh Gulvin prepares to help eighth-grader Danen Hagglund with an English paper at Langley Middle School. “Josh helps me get organized and get my work done,” Hagglund said. Gulvin visits LMS four days a week to help with schoolwork and, when needed, to just talk. - Jeff VanDerford
Josh Gulvin prepares to help eighth-grader Danen Hagglund with an English paper at Langley Middle School. “Josh helps me get organized and get my work done,” Hagglund said. Gulvin visits LMS four days a week to help with schoolwork and, when needed, to just talk.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

A couple of Sundays ago, South Whidbey High senior Josh Gulvin found himself with a free day all to himself and nothing planned.

Didn’t last long, though.

“My mom made me work on college applications,” Gulvin recalled with a smile. “Neither of my parents graduated from high school and they’ve pushed me hard to study and get good grades.”

Good, as in a grade point average slightly above 3.96 on a 4.0 scale.

Throughout his young life, Gulvin admits he’s taken the hard road, making choices that he hopes will stand him in good stead down the road.

“I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself,” he admitted.

He’s a star on the Falcon basketball team this winter, takes advanced placement classes, volunteers at the Island Coffee House in Langley and mentors at the middle school four mornings a week.

And you thought you had a busy life.

Gulvin’s played basketball since he was little, first through intramural leagues, then as a Cougar and now for South Whidbey. He’s gone out for football, track and baseball over the years, but decided to concentrate on one sport to keep his grades up.

Off-season he plays on select basketball teams.

“I like the flow of the game, playing with and against friends and being competitive; even when we win we try to get better,” he said.

Falcon Coach Andy Davis told a story about Gulvin. “He had a serious stress fracture in his foot in his sophomore year and couldn’t play, but came to every practice,” Davis said. “That says a lot about Josh, the kind of guy he is.”

Davis added that Gulvin is a hard worker, strong physically, makes good choices, “and is a great role model for younger players.”

Davis is also Gulvin’s math teacher.

“Josh is solid in pre-calculus; he completely understands a difficult subject,” he said.

A good thing, because Gulvin wants to be a doctor.

“I’m looking into schools with solid pre-med programs but aren’t too expensive,” he said. “Probably a school in Washington.”

He’s appreciates the quality of education he’s received on South Whidbey over the years. “As I got older I realized teachers could become friends who really wanted me to succeed,” Gulvin said.

Though he’s taken “a ton of math” his favorite class is AP U.S. History, taught by Mark Eager.

“He’s a very good teacher who makes the subject really interesting,” Gulvin said. “It’s also the hardest class I’ve ever taken, with a lot of homework. You should sit in on one of his lectures sometime.”

He likes to read, too; currently “Blood and Gold” by Anne Rice, but also “Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

His musical taste is eclectic at best; he favors groups called Underoath and Thrice — “A blend of soft music and screaming,” he explained.

Sort of what he might expect in an emergency room someday.

He doesn’t have much spare time for hobbies but likes to go “over town,” to see a movie with friends and chow down on cheap teriyaki, just like any 17-year-old you might encounter.

As part of the high school’s career tech program, Gulvin spends four hours each week at the middle school.

“Josh has a great working relationship with younger middle school boys,” advisor Janet Hunter said. “He’s very calm, reaching out to kids who may be struggling. He has a gift for getting them to open up about what’s going on in their lives and is a good role model.”

Gulvin’s world view has altered somewhat as a result of his work there.

“I started because it seemed a pretty tight program,” he said. “There’s some kids that need a lot of help. And some just need a friend to talk to, someone who will listen.”

A young man like this doesn’t acquire a solid value system by himself, however.

“My mom and dad have been very supportive all my life,” Gulvin reflected. “I couldn’t do it without them.”

Even when it means turning a lazy Sunday into a serious quest for a bright future.

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