Feb. 17, 2017
WASHINGTON - Highlighted by speeches from a pair of former student-athletes who competed in the Olympics recently, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia hosted the annual Captains & Coaches Dinner at Riggs Library on Thursday night.
The annual dinner brings together the team captains and head coaches for Georgetown's 29 intercollegiate sports.
"At Georgetown, the opportunity to compete in sports has a profound impact on the lives of our students," DeGioia said. "They learn what it means to push beyond the limits of previous accomplishments...to strive to become the women and men they are meant to be...to pursue excellence in all that they do.
"This spirit of excellence is animated by the extraordinary efforts of our coaches, through their efforts to enable our young women and men to excel and flourish...and it's embodied by our team captains, in the leadership they provide and the example they set for their teammates."
The evening was highlighted by speeches from former Hoya All-American sailor Charlie Buckingham (C'11) and swimmer Michelle Konkoly (C'15). They represented the United States during last year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Konkoly, who served as a captain on the swim team, won a pair of gold medals and broke a world record in the Paralympic Games, spoke to the group about taking advantage of unexpected opportunities.
"It was a great night and I was thrilled to be back on campus," Konkoly said. "I just wanted those kids to know that you don't have to do what maybe the expected path is and that they really need to embrace the environment at Georgetown while they have it and to learn from your classmates as much as you can."
"It was awesome," senior men's lacrosse player Nick Carpenter (Oakton, Va./Paul VI) said. "It was fun to be able to interact with different sports that you don't normally get to see too often because of everyone's busy schedules. Both of the Olympians stood out. Konkoly battled a lot and I didn't know her story coming into it. The lesson she talked about with hard work and perseverance really applies to being a captain of any team and working toward bringing people together working for a common goal."
Buckingham, who competed in the laser (dinghy) division of sailing, was a two-time recipient of the Everett B. Morris Trophy, which recognizes the Intercollegiate Sailing Association College Sailor of the Year. He is one of five members of the Georgetown sailing program to earn the honor, and one of two (Nevin Snow) to receive the award twice. Buckingham talked to the group about his experiences at Georgetown and what prepared him to compete in the Olympics.
"I think it was more the holistic Georgetown experience that prepared me," Buckingham told the crowd. "I had good sailing results and good enough grades to get recruited to and accepted into Georgetown, but that didn't guarantee anything at Georgetown. In fact, I was stepping into a proven athletic program and one of the top schools in the country. To get through successfully I had to rise to the occasion, and I think having to do that continually throughout school certainly helped me in pressure situations in my Olympic career."
Along with Konkoly and former track & field All-American Emily Infeld (C'12), Buckingham was back on campus in September when Georgetown hosted the U.S. Olympic Awards and he talked about the lessons he learned and his return.
"They sound so cliché but sometimes you don't really learn lessons until you've experienced them," Buckingham said. "Trust your gut and make the most of the present moment. They might sound cliché and they're so much easier said than done, especially with the amount of information we have swirling around us every single day."
The chance to listen to and interact with others at the dinner had an impression on many of the attendees.
"It really was such a great night," junior women's golfer Jacquelyn Eleey (Quincy, Mass./Taft) said. "I was really honored to be a part of it, and to hear the stories and experiences of former Hoyas who are now Olympians was inspiring and something that I will take with me going into my spring season."
"It was really special event to be able to attend," senior men's lacrosse player Charlie Ford (San Carlos, Calif./St. Ignatius) said. "Definitely an honor to be among the other captains at Georgetown and to have President DeGioia speak to us as well as Athletics Director Lee Reed. We were able to speak with two former Olympians, who are both Georgetown grads, about their time at Georgetown, their careers here, and what they've taken from being Georgetown student-athletes and their coaches to prepare for their experiences.
Senior field hockey player Molly Thompson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ann Arbor Pioneer), who gave the blessing at the start of the dinner, said the chance to hear the speakers, but also to interact with other coaches and athletes was just as meaningful.
"What struck me most about the dinner was the strength of community that we have as part of Georgetown Athletics," she said. "The authentic support that coaches and administrators have for all leaders -- formal and informal -- in athletics was apparent. I'm beyond grateful for the mentorship of my own coaches and have so appreciated the support from other sports during my time at Georgetown.
"I had the chance to sit with Coach (Natasha) Adair from women's basketball. She was so encouraging of our program and insightful about leadership and how it pertains to the student-athlete experience. I'm grateful for our athletics community and especially for opportunities like this dinner, where we can grow in community."
Buckingham and Konkoly also participated in a question and answer session with students in Copley Formal Lounge on Thursday afternoon prior to the dinner.