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Former Mason Athlete Plays Professional Volleyball in the Middle East

Former George Mason University men's volleyball star Mike Duckworth, B.A. Geography '98, is now a professional athlete playing his sport in Israel. Last November, Duckworth headed to the Middle East to play for team Amakim Zvulun. He lives in the small village of Kefar Meccabi, about 20 miles from Haifa.

Duckworth's lucrative six-month contract includes salary, insurance, bonuses, housing, and all air transfers. Unfortunately, it also includes a gas mask, which was issued upon his arrival in Israel. "I just hope Saddam Hussein doesn't send over any Scud missiles while I'm there," Duckworth said before leaving the United States.

A native of Virginia Beach, Duckworth spent last summer playing volleyball throughout Europe with the Men's Super Tour, which featured players from the United States, Japan, Finland, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The team was put together by Bring It Promotions and was coached by Tim Kelly, a former UCLA volleyball standout who is also Duckworth's agent.

"What I love the most about playing volleyball is traveling to so many different places and meeting people from different cultures," Duckworth says.

Duckworth's current team found out about him through a former opponent, All-American Navo Milo from the University of Hawaii. Milo, an Israeli who has played against Duckworth in the past, evidently was impressed by his talent and athletic ability.

During his last season at George Mason, Duckworth earned All-Eastern Intercollegiate Volley-ball Association (EIVA) first-team honors and helped lead the university to the EIVA Tournament semifinals. He was ranked ninth in the nation with an average of 5.86 kills per game, and he led the Patriots in total kills (463), digs (160), service aces (24), and solo blocks (25). Duckworth also set a school record with 18 kills in one game (against Princeton University) and left George Mason with a .304 career hitting percentage.

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