Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Family Ties

Family Ties

For Dwyers, Georgetown Sports is Genetic

By Ted Bauer Hoya Staff Writer

It was those 10 seconds that must have been the most painful of both of their lives. Everyone in the stadium knew that Brian Dwyer, the fifth-year strong safety and two-year captain on Georgetown’s undefeated football team, was done. Everyone saw him hit the turf against Holy Cross. It was a serious injury. He could barely walk.

The walk. He hobbled, assisted by teammates and trainers, towards the sideline. His father, John Dwyer (COL 71), a member of the Georgetown Hall of Fame for his performance on the gridiron, had already raced down from the bleachers to meet his son off the field. Brian hobbled. John waited.

After 10 painful seconds of one man worrying about the welfare of one of his most important possessions, a son who had followed in his footsteps in every possible way, a son whose football career meant as much to the father as to him, the two finally met. Two generations of Dwyers, linking 30 years of Hoya football.

They simply broke down.

“I remember saying to him `That’s it, it’s over, I’m through,'” recalled Brian Dwyer this week as he began yet another football practice, “and I remember him saying back to me through tears, `I know you better than that. And there is no way this is over.'”

The Dwyers are just one example of current Georgetown athletes who have been influenced by relatives either playing or coaching at the school. As Homecoming weekend finally becomes a reality, the familial ties across Hoya athletics come to the forefront. These are just a few stories.

It all started in a basement in the Midwest. The Dwyer family home had a renowned basement, perhaps the most famous in Winnetka, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The Dwyers were an athletic family. In addition to the accomplishments of Brian and his father, daughter Bridget is currently a sophomore lacrosse player at Georgetown and the oldest son John played hockey at Notre Dame. Mrs. Dwyer’s side of the family has Terry Brennan, the former football coach at Notre Dame. Nora, John’s second oldest daughter, is a high school senior with similar lacrosse skills as her big sister. “Hopefully she’ll be a Hoya next year,”said Brian.

Ten-year-old Kathleen is already an extraordinary swimmer, and the newborn of the family, Brennan, is already being pegged as an athlete.

But it all began in the basement of their home in Winnetka, where Brian and his older brother would challenge Bridget and Nora to floor hockey games that often became more physical than the NHL.

“It was definitely a stadium-type atmosphere in our basement back then,” reflected Brian. “We had people watching from the stairs, and there were some amazingly intense games contested down there. It made our basement one of the more renowned places in town.”

Basement floor hockey was not even the beginning. Brian and his brother used to play one-on-one football in their yard.

“I don’t even know how you play one on one football, looking back,” said Brian. “It was pretty much me kicking off to my brother and then him running me over. I remember the next day my entire body used to be scarred. I can say one thing for those games -they definitely made me tougher.”

Ever since the Dwyer children could walk, a piece of athletic equipment was placed in their hands.

“Our entire family is very athletic,” said Brian as he sat for an inteview this week, “and we have learned so much from sports over the years.”

“You learn a lot about life through athletics,” Bridget chimed in from her seat on the other side of the desk. “You learn about teamwork, establishing close relationships with people, and how much hard work pays off.”

“Ever since I was three,” Brian continued, “I have been playing some sort of sport. I always loved to do it, but at the same time I realized it was not the most important thing in life. I appreciate the game for the game, but I appreciate the relationships I have made in my five years on this team even more.”

Brian points specifically to his relationship with Georgetown Football Head Coach Bob Benson:

“He is a great coach, and I have become really close with him over the years.”

His mother has also taught him about things in life more important than sports: She recently gave birth to a child at age 44.

“She worked right up until she had that baby,” Bridget said. “She never lets anything stand in her way.

“Mom always used to tell me, anyone can play healthy. It’s those who can play while being a little off their game that are the true champions. For a woman to give birth so late in life, it was such a great thing for our family. She is a tremendous role model for our entire family, and I think her attitude reflects how the entire family tries to behave.”

When Brian had to decide on a college, Georgetown seemed a natural fit. But at the same time, it was not a sure thing.

“Coming from my background, I had always been a Georgetown fan,” said Brian, “but what it boiled down to in the end wasn’t my dad or anything else. Georgetown was the best fit for me at that time, and it still is. I love Coach Benson, and I love the Georgetown tradition in athletics.”

Another Kehoe Field superstar took a similar route to the stretch of turf on which some Hoyas will become legends tomorrow afternoon. Women’s lacrosse All-American Sheehan Stanwick, the crease attacker on the nationally ranked program (and a teammate of Bridget Dwyer’s), also has family ties to Georgetown athletics.

Her grandfather, Frederick Mesmer, coached the illustrious Georgetown basketball program. While Stanwick never knew Mesmer because he died years before her birth, she has heard lore about the two-sport member of Georgetown’s Hall of Fame. Mesmer was inducted for his accomplishments as a player in tennis and basketball. Stanwick’s father also attended Georgetown, but not as an athlete.

Despite that, Stanwick still grew up with athletics as a primary force in her life. She played lacrosse, basketball and ran cross country during high school at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore.

“I have been playing sports my entire life,” said Stanwick, “so I have pretty much done everything.”

“Sports has helped me in all aspects of my life,” continued the junior standout, “from how I interact with people to how I value the effort I put into something. The friendships I have established throughout my life based on meeting people via sports are the strongest friendships I have.”

Stanwick came to the same point as Brian Dwyer. She had to choose a college. Growing up hearing tales of her grandfather, Georgetown seemed like a perfect fit. But she was still slightly skeptical.

“I really never thought I would end up here, but I am glad I did,” Stanwick said. “I am sure that if my grandfather had been alive, that would have been a greater impact on my decision to come here. But hearing stories about him, and about the spirit of Georgetown athletics, made me really want to come here.”

Stanwick did some recruiting for the program herself recently: Her sister Wick is now a freshman on the lacrosse team, which has faired well in preseason tournaments and enters the season with hopes of a national title.

If the Stanwick sisters lead them there, you can thank one Frederick Mesmer.

But what of tomorrow?

Homecoming at every school is the largest athletic-centered weekend of the year. For Brian Dwyer, it may be the biggest weekend of his life. Brian graduated last year, so many of those 1999 graduates who will return are his closest friends. After he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, doctors said he would never play football again. He returned two weeks ago, defying all odds, and now can suit up one final time for a rabid Hoya Homecoming crowd. It will be his final Homecoming, both as a player and as a captain. His parents will be there, apparently with all his siblings.

“No doubt it is going to be extremely emotional for me,” said Brian. “It always means so much to have my parents and my brothers and sisters at a game for me.”

Even though she is not in season, Bridget knows what tomorrow holds. Her parents have already made the long trek from the midwest to see two of her preseason tournaments; her mom feels badly that she missed games last season due to the pregnancy. Bridget expects them to be at almost every Hoya home game this spring.

“Even though I am not in season, it’s going to be a really touching day,” said Bridget. “To see my entire family in one place, cheering on Brian, who is out there giving it all he has, is so special for me. It’s my brother’s last Homecoming, and that makes it really important for all of us.”

Stanwick will not be participating in tomorrow’s festivities as an athlete. But tomorrow will be a great day for her.

“Homecoming is amazing,” said Stanwick. “Everyone is out there, cheering wildly. The crowd is so pumped up. The true spirit of Georgetown really shows through.”

When I tore my ACL,” said Brian, “my family was devastated. But they had always told me not to let obstacles stand in my way. They told me I was coming back. I defied the odds of all the doctors except one, and I came back in less than a month. I owe it all to my parents. They are the biggest role models in my life. They support everything I do, and know I can do everything I think I might not be able to.”

The 10 seconds on Kehoe Field tomorrow will start out the same. A son will approach a father, probably accompanied by two or three teammates. The father will have just raced down from the bleachers. When they meet on the sidelines, the teammates will disperse, and it will be father and son, alone, just the way it was during the first game of this season. It will be John and Brian Dwyer.

But here the story changes. Instead of looking into each other’s eyes and crying, they will embrace. A family of athletes- lacrosse stars, hockey stars, swimmers- and a mother with a newborn at 44 will run down from the bleachers. The man and the boy will be hugging.

But maybe the story isn’t so different after all. There might be a tear dropped. There might be some sobbing.

But forgive them. They are family.

 

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