Four years ago, Julie Litchfield lived in a small town on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She did not know what she wanted to do for college, except that she wanted to be a collegiate athlete. Fast-forward to today and Litchfield is graduating this year with a degree in biology and plans to attend graduate school in order to become a nurse practitioner. She is also one of the captains of the George Fox University (GFU) basketball team and is engaged to be married this summer.
Moving to Newberg for school was definitely an adjustment for Litchfield. She found out about GFU through an assistant coach in high school who played for George Fox in the years the team won the national championship.
“I wasn’t sure that I wanted to play basketball in college until senior year of high school. I actually was pretty set on soccer for a while; I thought I had a more realistic chance at that,” said Litchfield. “But basketball has become a really big part of me during these past four years.”
Litchfield started playing basketball at the age of five and grew up playing soccer and volleyball as well. Getting active has always been her favorite thing to do. She loves snowboarding, too, during the off-season.
As captain of the GFU squad, Litchfield makes sure that the team is always on the same page. In the pre-season, when coaches cannot be involved in planning practices, she makes sure that the open gym workouts happen and accounts for everyone’s schedules. It is harder than it seems, she says, because of everyone’s schedules and planning around the other sports teams using Duke Athletic Center. One day they had to have three different practices scheduled.
“Julie works hard at practice every day, no matter how she is feeling, and no matter how well everyone else is playing. She is steady, dependable, and an excellent leader. I am blessed to call her my teammate,” said sophomore Emily Holder.
The team dynamic is one of the best parts of playing for GFU, said Litchfield. The team spends so much time together and is really closely bonded. One of Litchfield’s favorite team memories is getting to spend a day at Disneyland last year after playing games in California. They travel across the country together for games and support each other on and off the court. As a captain, Litchfield is an encourager and motivator, in addition to her official duties.
“[Julie] is one of the people that you know is always going to work 110 percent on the court. I can always count on her to be there for me and my teammates. She always pushes me to become a better player during practice,” said sophomore Emma Klym.
The Bruins won their first pre-season game on Nov. 17, starting off the season strong with a score of 68 - 57.
“It’s hard to know what to expect, but I have a really good feeling about this season. We have some really strong freshmen coming in, as well as the sophomore class that got a lot of experience playing last year,” says Litchfield.
In her senior season, Litchfield is excited to be a part of an amazing team and just enjoy the sport. She loves the atmosphere at the home games and the support that students have for GFU sports. Students can watch Litchfield and the rest of our women’s basketball team at Linfield College on Dec. 1 or in Wheeler Athletic Center on Dec. 9.
Reported by Emma Lindberg
Photographed by Satoshi Seth