I had been covering Georgetown athletics for about a year when someone asked me if all I wrote about was sports. The simple answer was the same then as it is now: yes, because sports are such an integral part of the Georgetown and college experience.
The complex answer can be found in the many ways I have seen students participating in athletics over the past four years, from varsity teams to intramural dreams and all of the fan support in between.
I’ve never worn the blue and gray for Georgetown, but while reporting on the varsity teams, I have seen athletes learn and exemplify lessons that aren’t taught in classrooms.
Take the sailing team, which has learned how to achieve and sustain greatness. In the last four years, Mike Callahan’s team has caught two national titles in their sails, and three of the last four Everett B. Morris Trophy winners – the Heisman of college sailing – are Hoyas. Carrying that pedigree of success after graduation, alum Andrew Campbell represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics.
Of course not all Hoya teams have that kind of track record, but losses on the field don’t necessarily mean failure. It’s hard not to respect the seniors on the football team, who kept waking up before the rest of the campus for early morning practice, despite winning only five games in four years.
Look no further than the team’s prize alum, Alex Buzbee, to see that attitude of fighting through losses. Buzbee is the first Georgetown player in over 50 years to make it to the NFL, but missed his chance to see the field when he ruptured his Achilles’ tendon at Redskins training camp. The defensive end hasn’t given up though. He signed with Toronto in the Canadian Football League earlier this year.
I’ve also seen perseverance and hard work at Georgetown, His name is Dan Vinson. A walk-on that was cut from the lacrosse team his freshman year, Vinson rarely saw the field until his senior season. When the California-native finally became a starter, Head Coach Dave Urick liked to talk about how tough the faceoff specialist was.
One day in the weight room, Vinson’s lifting session was so intense that he accidently cracked himself in the forehead with a barbell. Your average student skips class for a little headache, but not Vinson. After nearly passing out and receiving stitches, he took notes in lecture and then returned to the gym to finish his lift.
Still, the refrain I have heard the most, from benchwarmers to future NBA players, is that the most important part of sports is the camaraderie and friendship built between teammates. The ability to trust others and to be there for them on and off the field of play is the biggest lesson learned.
A few months ago I interviewed lacrosse star Molly Ford just before the start of her senior season. She echoed the usual camaraderie sentiments, but most athletes say the same things when reflecting on their college careers. It wasn’t until the end of the season, when Georgetown won its first Big East tournament title, when I truly understood what Ford was talking about.
Yeardley Love, a high school teammate of Ford and several other Hoyas, had been murdered three days before Georgetown’s first game in the Big East tournament. Wearing orange arm and head bands to honor the fallen Virginia player, the heavy-hearted Hoyas came together to win the title and Ford was named Most Outstanding Player as the team’s leader.
For those of us that aren’t elite athletes, there’s plenty of club and intramural sports at Georgetown to go around. The story I wrote that got the largest response in four years was about intramural director Wedge Sullivan, who is responsible for organizing hundreds if not thousands of games of basketball, football and soccer for students.
Sports at Georgetown teach lessons and provide an outlet to get away from the library, but most importantly they build community. And nothing brings the Georgetown community together like our beloved men’s basketball team.
When I was a freshman, students stormed M Street and ran to the White House after the Hoyas completed a comeback win over North Carolina to earn a trip to the Final Four.
This year, the fan base trekked to a home game against Villanova despite a blizzard that shut down the entire city and forced the team to spend the night at a hotel within walking distance of Verizon Center. Enough students to fill both sections behind the baskets braved the snow drifts and bitter wind, all for a game that was on TV.
What other events brought freshmen and seniors together the way an impromptu run to the White House did, or encouraged them to freeze their behinds off just to see the Hoyas top the Wildcats? The historic election of Barack Obama and his frigid January inauguration comes to mind. Not bad company.
Sure, I only write about sports, but what more do I need?
Kevin Wessel is a senior in the College. He has covered Georgetown sports for The Hoya since 2006.