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Fortunate on game show and in life

James Gusich, '01

James “Jim” Gusich, former Maverick baseball player, coach and 2001 graduate, was a winner during Teacher’s Week on Wheel of Fortune.

Gusich said it was a surreal experience being on television and standing next to Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune. The contestant coordinators and Wheel of Fortune staff prepped contestants and constantly reminded them of the rules and the way they must answer.

“Almost like coaches, they go out of their way to make the atmosphere as relaxed as possible so that everyone can do their best.” That atmosphere certainly worked in Gusich’s favor because he won more than $51,000 in cash and prizes including a trip to Hawaii.

As an outfielder at CMU, he played in two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in 1999 and 2001. Following graduation, Jim joined the Maverick baseball coaching staff where he was lead outfield coach, assistant hitting instructor and assistant to the head coach until 2004.

Now, the family man and father of two is a special education resource teacher at Del Norte High School in San Diego, California. He specializes in science, physics and biology. Gusich describes his students as those who have no outward signs of special needs but require additional assistance in learning.

Along with teaching, Jim coaches the Del Norte Hawks baseball team. He especially enjoys the baseball camps, where high school baseball players come together with little league players.

“High school is a very stressful time,” Gusich said with conviction, “To watch the teenagers connect with five-year-olds about baseball, to watch the interaction, it really gives high school kids a sense of belonging in their community.”

He may have won big on his own on Wheel of Fortune, but his life work is about embodying and teaching what a true team player means.

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Written by Suzanne Bronson