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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

2011 Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Georgetown University
February 25, 2011

Thank you, Rory, for that introduction.  And thanks to you and the entire Hall of Fame Committee for everything you've done to make this an extraordinary evening for all of us.  I also wish to express my appreciation to our Director of Athletics, Lee Reed for the leadership you have brought to Georgetown over the past year.  

I also wish to thank Hoyas Unlimited, the Department of Athletics, and the Alumni Association for their support of the Hall of Fame and for hosting tonight's event. And, I extend my most sincere congratulations to our inductees, their families, and friends.  This is always a very special night in the life of our community and it is an honor for me to share this evening with you.

We celebrate tonight our 19th Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  The seven individuals we honor are exceptional individuals who established themselves as leaders during their years here at Georgetown.  

Georgetown Athletics is an inextricable part of Georgetown University. When I say that, I am trying to capture the sense that what we hope for in the undergraduate experience of each of our students here at Georgetown, can, in part, be realized through participation in intercollegiate athletics.

What we hope for each of our students is that they will have the experiences, the relationships, and the resources, through which they will be able to cultivate their minds and forge their character. To put it simply, we wish for each of our students, by virtue of their membership in this community, that they will have the opportunity to do their very best work and become their very best selves… 

We wish for each of our students the opportunity here to fulfill their promise and potential.

The four undergraduate years spent on this Hilltop are a very privileged four years. We never again experience anything quite like what happens here. There is an intensity and focus on our formation as people. Through our curriculum—the courses we take and the faculty we interact with, through the practice of our faiths and our contact with the Jesuit tradition, through our service here in the city of Washington, through the living experiences in our residence halls, through study abroad, and through the friendships that are forged – the interactions across diverse and varied backgrounds –  through the integration of all these elements of our undergraduate years, we have a chance to continue a journey that we began as children in our homes, through the efforts of our families and loved ones, and to take the next steps on this journey, here, in becoming the woman and men we are meant to be.

For a rare group of students here, the combination of experiences that take place at Georgetown, through which you are able to achieve your promise and potential, include continued participation, through your college years, in intercollegiate athletics.

There are two dimensions to the intercollegiate experience here at Georgetown—one that focuses on the individual and a second, focused on our community. For the individual, again, for some, for whom continued participation in athletics makes sense, we believe this is an inextricable part of an undergraduate experience that enables you to achieve everything you are capable of becoming as young women and men. It is a part of your formation. 

We will enroll approximately 1500 undergraduates each year, and of that, approximately 200 will come here with the intent to continue competing in one of our 29 sports. What each of these students represents is an extraordinary achievement. I often say this to our current students: you have been competing since you were very young. In fact, there are approximately 30 million children engaged in organized youth sports in our nation. By high school, there are only 7 million and of that, 156,000 – only 2.2 percent – will compete at the Division I level in the NCAA. 30 million to 7 million to 156,000.

For the 200 first year students who represent Georgetown, for many of you who are back here tonight, you woke up every morning from the time you were very young, thinking differently than many of those around you. You were athletes. And you made choices that differentiated you from your friends and classmates in ways that enabled you to continue to find out just who you were and what you were capable of achieving. 

You lived your lives just a little differently. It required a commitment, a perseverance, a discipline, courage. And you came here, and continued to live your lives in this way, seeking to maximize your promise and potential.

A second dimension is this community. I spoke last evening to the annual dinner in New York of the Wall Street Alliance and I indicated then that, in addition to having the opportunity of receiving an incredible education here at Georgetown, there is something else that happens: We are invited into a very special community, a community in which we can continue to be engaged throughout our lives. Last evening, nearly 800 members of our community came together in support of scholarships at Georgetown.

The idea of community: that together we can accomplish more than we could ever hope to accomplish alone. And for an athlete: It is through the community of one’s team—it is one’s teammates, who enable you to develop yourselves, it is your teammates who bring out the very best in you.

And of those 200 first year students who begin their undergraduate years engaged in intercollegiate athletics, there are a few, no more than few who rise to a very special status. Every other year we host this dinner and we present a small group of individuals with the highest honor we can bestow on someone who participated in intercollegiate athletics—we induct them into our Hall of Fame. Averages out to perhaps three or so a year. Individuals, who through the force of their character and the quality of their performance so distinguished themselves through their engagement in Georgetown Athletics, that we honor them for the contribution they have made to the life of this community.

This community has a characteristic spirit—an ethos, which reflects this commitment that together we seek to bring out the very best in one another. It is a community made up of people like Tom Walter (B’91).

Many of you might be familiar with this story but I'd like to take a moment to share it with you.  A four-year starter and captain on our baseball team, Tom has gone on to coach at George Washington, at the University of New Orleans, and most recently he's become the coach of Wake Forest.  Like many coaches, he treats his players like family.  But his commitment to embodying selfless leadership extends far beyond the baseball diamond.  

This year, when a freshman player on his Wake Forest team needed a kidney transplant, Tom became his donor.  Tom is a very special man. We've all been inspired by this story and we are proud that Tom is a member of our community.   

Every other year we honor a group of individuals who represent the very best of Georgetown. Individuals who not only found ways to develop themselves to the maximum of their potential, but who through their example, brought out the best in all of us. Dean; Andy; Michael; Kathy; Jim; Mark; and Alonzo, thank you for what you achieved here—you showed us all what it means to wear the Blue and Gray; and thank you for bringing out the best in Georgetown.

We are honored to recognize you tonight and to immortalize your achievements in our Hall of Fame.  As long as there is a Georgetown University, we will remember you and what you achieved during your years on this Hilltop. Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for being here tonight and please join me once again in congratulating our Class of 2011 inductees into the Georgetown Hall of Fame.

 

 

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