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

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


  1. Knowing Gina personally, I can say she's a true Hoya fan. Thanks to Georgetown for shaping her into the wonderful person she is today!!!

  2. Her passion for Georgetown is as alive today as it was then. Now, I understand it. SF

  3. Go Gina! Excellent, thanks so much! Jeff M in Chicago

  4. Wonderful story, Gina! Stacy Sanseverino CAS '96


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