James Ritchie has been described as an exceptionally intelligent, dynamic as well as kind individual who displays a strong work ethic. Ranked at the top academically, he’s an athlete who rose to the top despite a diagnosis of diabetes.
He loves to build things, including building a computer from parts. Even in middle school, he has distinguished himself in math and sciences. In eighth grade, he was part of a Key Peninsula Middle School three-person student team whose experiment was selected to be tested in zero gravity on the International Space Station.
“As a little kid you’re always imagining being an astronaut or a firefighter, so it was cool to experience being part of that project,” he says. “It made you feel like anything was possible.”
A basketball and baseball player since elementary school, Ritchie was only a sophomore when he was selected as the captain of the varsity basketball team — a role he played for three years.
“I like the tempo of the game — it’s quick — and there’s a big mental side to it as well,” he says. “You gotta be able to read and react to what the other team is doing.”
His achievements on the court include breaking the Class 3A South Puget Sound League rebounding record in one season. Ritchie attributes his success not just to his “basketball IQ” and knowing the right things to do, but also to his hard work and the support structure that includes his family, coaches and teammates.
“He knows what he wants, he wants it more than others, he is always striving to get better, he does ordinary things better than everyone else, and he makes everyone around him better,” says his basketball coach Jake Jackson.
Although his diagnosis of diabetes in 2009 was devastating, Ritchie says he got used to it once he learned how it impacts him on and off the athletic field or court.
“It changed my life quite a bit,” he says. “But I wouldn’t give up sports because that’s my love and passion.”
Jackson, who’s the CEO of Sterling Athletics, says Ritchie is someone who would bring immediate results to the apparel company.
“Jimmy will go down as the smartest student athlete I have ever coached,” he says. “Jimmy’s intelligence combined with his strong work ethic, passion and natural leadership capabilities make him a dream hire.”
Ritchie has not selected a college yet but he hopes to play basketball while studying electrical or mechanical engineering.
Category: Science and technology
Education: Senior, Peninsula High School
Parents: Jim & Karen Ritchie
Activities/Achievements: 8 AP/Honors classes; National Honor Society; baseball SPSL Scholar Athlete; basketball varsity captain, SPSL Scholar Athlete, record for league rebounds, 1st Team All-League; building computers; projected selected for International Space Station experiment
Favorite teacher: Kyle Meidell, history. “He did a wonderful job of keeping students engaged and interested while still teaching effectively.”
Best thing about high school: “The people: Everyone at PHS is kind and accepting and willing to go out of their way to help you.”