Grad Year: 1958
Year Inducted: 2001
James Whitaker was an outstanding soccer player during his career at Rhode Island College, playing for three seasons from 1955-57. He co-captained the team and received the John E. Hetherman Award in 1958. Whitaker earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1958. Prior to coming to RIC, Whitaker played professional baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization for two seasons in 1948 and 1949 before an elbow injury ended his career.
Whitaker distinguished himself as a teacher and coach at East Providence High School. He was the Head Wrestling Coach at East Providence High from 1947-73, beginning his career as the youngest head coach in Rhode Island high school history. Whitaker coached 75 Rhode Island and New England Champions, three of which were selected as "Outstanding Wrestler" in New England. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 1975 and into EPHS’s Hall of Fame in 2000. After his wrestling coaching career, Whitaker was a wrestling official for ten years. In addition, he was the Assistant Baseball Coach at EPHS for nine years and the Head Coach for ten years. Whitaker was the Head Football Coach at Central Junior High School for 19 seasons. He served as the President of the R.I. High School Baseball Coaches’ Association for two years.
He retired in 1990 after a 32-year career at East Providence High School, primarily as an English and social studies teacher.