V I E W   F R O M   T H E   H I L L T O P

April 14, 2009

Shades of Georgetown Rowing


Rowing, they say, is the ultimate team sport. It is easy to understand why. Eight individuals all pulling together in syncopation to make their boat move faster. To the spectators, the rowers are indistinguishable . . .



Rowing, they say, is the ultimate team sport. It is easy to understand why. Eight individuals all pulling together in syncopation to make their boat move faster. To the spectators, the rowers are indistinguishable in a well-executed shell. If there is one oarsman in the boat superior to the others, most of us wouldn't know it.

Still, there is an additional person who fills out the traditional collegiate eight: the coxswain. As the only body in the shell who faces forward, the cox plays a special role, a quarterback of sorts, steering the boat, thinking quickly, and calling out the pace. A talented coxswain makes a good boat better and can be the critical margin of success in a tight race. So it is that, following a major victory, the coxswain is tossed in celebration into the drink by his or her enthused rowing teammates.

While the solitary role of the cox cannot be shared with boatmates, it is left to coxswains to seek out each other for support and inspiration. And when the rowing community gathered on Good Friday last to dedicate a shell in memory of GU Hall of Fame coach Don Cadle, it refreshed me to witness the meeting of current varsity heavyweight cox, Jack Carlson '09 and his historical counterpart, the legendary Doug "Tiger" Sergeant '65.

Though many years separate their time at Georgetown, Jack and Tiger share a powerful nexus. Not only of wearing the blue and gray or of speeding to victory in a Georgetown shell; yes, they do share that wonderful experience with all of their teammates. Their unique bond comes instead from the instant understanding that each has of the other when meeting a fellow cox, as well as the proud lineage of coxswains that dates to the beginnings of the Georgetown Crew.

Never Row!


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April 7, 2009

Lights! Camera! Action!



Last Friday, in the inaugural game under the lights at the Hoya Yard, I witnessed one of the more dramatic Georgetown comebacks I have seen. The women's lacrosse team hosted defending Big East champion Syracuse coached by the legendary Gary Gait.

Last Friday, in the inaugural game under the lights at the Hoya Yard, I witnessed one of the more dramatic Georgetown comebacks I have seen. The women's lacrosse team hosted defending Big East champion Syracuse coached by the legendary Gary Gait.



By the middle of the second half, the Hoyas found themselves on the short end of a 10-6 score. Since women's lacrosse rules do not provide for stalling or delay of game, it is not uncommon, with as much as ten minutes to play, for a team with the lead to slow the pace or simply play keep-away to protect their margin for victory. It never got to that point in this matchup however, mostly because the Orange couldn't get the ball back. Instead, the Hoyas poured in four goals in little more than four minutes to tie the game. They then slowed things down a bit for the rest of regulation, which ended with the score knotted at ten. Four 3-minute overtime periods ensued without result. In the fifth overtime, junior star Ashby Kaestner ended the contest on a free position shot.

An extended night game victory in the Yard. What a fitting way to break in the new lights!


An aside: 39 years ago, back when the Hoya Yard was still known as Harbin field, the lack of lighting on the field limited its use to a daytime schedule. Motivated to expand practice times for the Hoya teams, a group of students, alumni, and faculty organized an effort to raise funds to put up lights on Harbin field. They asked for others to join them by paying dues of ten dollars (five for students). With the money they raised, a steering committee allocated $5,000 to put up a couple of poles with two floodlights on each and to run electricity to them. This modest first lighting of athletic fields was a small yet defining contribution of an organization that continues to provide vital support to Georgetown athletics to this day: Hoyas Unlimited.



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April 2, 2009

Que Saxa!


The 2009 men's basketball season ended a few weeks back. But today was the actual date (25 years ago) of the Hoyas' national championship victory in the 1984 NCAA tournament. During the season, we celebrated this anniversary with a gala reunion on the eve of the Marquette game. Photos of the celebration are posted here. In the lead-up to the anniversary weekend, an inspiring personal story surfaced from one Hoya alum. I am pleased to introduce the latest guest blogger to View from the Hilltop and the first to post on this re-located blog site. A big thanks to Gina Dyson '96 for her remembrances of Georgetown basketball and our championship season a quarter century ago. I share that story from Gina after the jump.


In early 1984, my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Osman, did a lesson on Washington DC. Seeing the monuments and learning about American History, I was hooked. Although I had never been outside of Los Angeles, I told her that I wanted to live in Washington someday, to which she quickly quipped, “You should go to Georgetown University for college.” Never hearing of such a place, I said an enthusiastic “OK!” and decided to ask her what Georgetown was later, so as not to hurt her feelings. That Saturday morning, I sat in front of our TV and was flipping through the channels deciding on which cartoons to watch, when a basketball game on CBS caught my eye. I stopped for a moment and realized that their jerseys said Georgetown on them. I started shrieking and my mother came running into the living room. I exclaimed, “Look, it’s Georgetown! That’s my college. That is where I am going to school one day.” My mother was utterly confused by my passion, but humored me nonetheless. That morning, I laid in front of the TV and watched the entire game, forgetting all about my cartoons.

After that fateful day, I bounded up each Saturday morning, desperate to find those Georgetown players again. When they appeared, I was in heaven. Living in Los Angeles and in the days before cable and the Internet, my viewing options were limited. I was however, able to watch several games that season. My mother didn’t quite know what to make of my new found interest in men’s college basketball, given that my current ten year old passions were Barbie and Cyndi Lauper.

What happened during that winter, however, was so much more than watching a basketball team. First, they became the embodiment of my very first goal. Connecting with them each Saturday brought the fantasy a little closer to reality. The dream of living near those beautiful monuments and attending a school I had never heard of thousands of miles from home was less scary and more possible with the team in my living room.


Second, I became an admirer of John Thompson. In his interviews, due to fact that he was breaking racial barriers, he would often discuss education and race in addition to game details. He was passionate with a purpose. What he was creating wasn’t just about basketball. After my parents, he became and remained my third mentor throughout my school years (though he never knew it). I remember the championship game. I remember the joy on the screen. I remember the fuss made that he was the first African American coach to win. I didn’t quite understand why it was such a big deal, but it inspired me. As a Mexican American girl from a lower middle class single parent household in Southern California, I was determined to work hard everyday to get to Georgetown. If Coach Thompson could realize his dream, I could realize mine. When I got lazy and didn’t want to study, his voice, his words, and the image of a deflated basketball on his desk, underlying the absence of education, would snap me out of my funk and I would work harder.

Through the years, I would listen to Coach Thompson talk about the need to create educational access for those that did not have the financial advantages in youth to position themselves for college. I understood what he was fighting for and why he was relentless in his activism. I wanted to attend Georgetown to continue to learn from him (why he never taught a course is beyond me—I would have enrolled every semester). As a Hoya, it was clear that Georgetown fought for equity as well. I knew that my career had to continue this work. Today, I manage the student experience for Walden University, dedicated to making quality masters and PhD programs accessible to all learners who are willing to work hard and accept support to achieve the prize, an advanced degree.

This year, we celebrated a great victory that took place a quarter of a century ago. It means something different for each of us who remember that championship season. For me, I couldn’t tell you about the points scored or the plays made. What I can tell you is that the season and its story changed a ten year old forever.

Que Saxa!

Gina Dyson
CAS 96 GRD 01

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April 1, 2009

Swifter Than The Wind




On a number of occasions in the past, I have posted about the history of rowing at Georgetown as well as the celebration last autumn during Never Row weekend of 50 years of modern crew on the Hilltop. At the gala dinner on that celebration weekend, the first official video on modern rowing at Georgetown debuted. After the jump, you can view on the web the 11-minute retrospective in its entirety . . .

On a number of occasions in the past, I have posted about the history of rowing at Georgetown as well as the celebration last autumn during Never Row weekend of 50 years of modern crew on the Hilltop. The links to those posts are listed at the end of this entry.

At the gala dinner on that celebration weekend, the first official video on modern rowing at Georgetown debuted. Below, you can view in its entirety on the web the 11-minute retrospective: Swifter Than The Wind.


video



Never Row? [30 years of women's rowing]

A Good Start [the birth of modern crew at Georgetown]

A Great Second Act [the start of lightweight rowing on the Hilltop]

Ocior Euro [recap of Never Row weekend]


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