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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 5 years ago

Athlete of the Week: Richie James

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Riverview High junior wide receiver Richie James has been playing football for nine years and says he’s driven by his love for the game. Not only does the Gators fan make an impact with his athleticism, but he also has a flair for foot fashion that makes him impossible to miss. This week, he tells the Sarasota Observer about his strengths as a player and from where his signature socks originated.

What do you remember about your first high school game?
I was really nervous. It was football on a much bigger level, and everything is different. The game speed is a lot different, so, yeah, I was nervous. I was also one of the smallest people on the field.

How did it go?
I think I did a pretty good job. I think I got two touchdowns that game.

Have you always played wide receiver?
I used to play running back and quarterback. I didn’t start playing wide receiver until high school.

What was that transition process like?
The hardest part was learning how the defense lines up, learning the playbook and the routes and just being sharp and precise. I feel comfortable in the position, now.

What do you consider to be your strongest point as a player?
Leadership. When you’re a leader, you have to be in control of a lot of what happens around you. When I was playing Little League, I was one of the best players on the team, and everyone expected me to make a lot of the plays. I think that leadership just kind of carried over.

In what ways do you struggle?
My attitude. I let it control me sometimes. I’ll yell or get frustrated, and sometimes I’ll say negative things that I don’t really mean. I think that just comes from my passion for the game.

What has been your proudest moment in football?
Playing at the varsity level is an achievement. It’s like a dream just to be able to play.

How does your team work together?
We all have the same mindset that we want to win. We’re getting there. We’re still young — most of us are juniors. Even if we lose, if we play well, it still feels like we won. If the team just happens to be better than us, I can accept that as a loss, but if we’re not playing our best, that’s really frustrating.

How did your tradition of wearing high colorful socks start?
It actually started last track season. I saw RG3 (Redskins quarterback, Robert Lee Griffin III) wearing socks, and I thought that I wanted to do that. A lot of girls will tell me, “Hey, cute socks.” Everybody loves them.

How many different pairs do you have, and do you have a favorite?
I have about 12 pairs now. I think the ones I wore against Manatee, the purple ones with stars, are my favorites.

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