Today

Jay Bilas Addresses Woodberry Community

Taft Gantt ’20 sits down with Duke legend Jay Bilas.

By J Banzet ’20

Not every day does a five-time Emmy nominated analyst from the world’s largest sports broadcasting company spend a day talking to students at Woodberry.

Yesterday, on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ESPN College Basketball Analyst Jay Bilas spent the afternoon and evening getting to know the school’s students and faculty. After an extended version of his “94 Feet” segment with Woodberry Head Basketball Coach Craig Dawson, Bilas sat down with WFSPN Chairman Taft Gantt ‘20 for a one-on-one interview.

“It was an amazing experience getting to interview someone of his stature,” Gantt said. “I grew up watching him commentate all of the best college basketball games and there I was, sitting right across from him. I was very excited to get the chance to meet him. It was a great opportunity for our school and for WFSPN.”

For the rest of the night, Bilas dined with the fall varsity captains at Dr. Hulsey’s table and gave a Bowman Gray Auditorium talk centered around his book Toughness and its related ideas.

Bilas challenged students to put in the work right now that’s necessary to make their lives down the road more enjoyable and productive.

“You’ve got a lot of ‘have to’ in your life,” Bilas said. “Take care of it right now so the rest can be ‘want to.’ Life is long for ‘have to’ people.”

After speaking to the importance of concentration, he talked about what makes a good teammate.

“A great teammate is easy to play with and hard to play against,” Bilas said. “He’s ‘we’ first, not ‘me’ first.”

The former Duke Blue Devil next emphasized the idea of “finishing” to the students.

“You have to be at your best in the end,” Bilas spoke. “Can you perform in the end?” 

He ended his talk by speaking about the amazing opportunities that Woodberry gives its students to succeed and the need for students to take advantage of those chances.

“This place is an incredible springboard. An incredible springboard. I don’t think you can even imagine right now the heights you can reach with what you have,” Bilas said. “The people you have in this room that will support you and the resources you have here, it’s [sic] extraordinary.”

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