October 17, 2008
Midnight Madness takes place tonight in McDonough Memorial Gymnasium. Enthusiastic students and supporters will fill the arena and will ooh and aah at the basketball skills of the new players and upperclassmen alike. They will dream of the prospects of a third straight Big East regular season championship and more. Anticipation is all about imagining the possible. It's one of joys of participating in sports, shared by athletes and fans alike.
Tomorrow, fans will flock to the Hoya Yard to see the football Hoyas take on the Bucknell Bison. Now halfway through the 2008 schedule, half of the preseason anticipation has slipped away. With a very challenging line-up of opponents, we have emerged victorious just once in five games. Still, as a witness to the daily effort and devotion of the coaches and football athletes, I know that every one of these men continue to imagine the possible. They not only anticipate the positive, they are continuing to bring it everyday and on Saturdays. The truth is: they are winners.
You see, what I gained from my own athletic experience and from watching from the sidelines and stands for the past 35 years is a high regard for the value of perseverance in the face of adversity. I was a helmet sport athlete for four years at Georgetown and I experienced three so-called "down years." Those seasons were as powerful a learning experience as I have had in my life.
Three weeks ago at the Major golf event in Florida, I spent some time with one of last year's captains, Kyle Van Fleet. Now with Goldman Sachs in NYC, Kyle experienced more than his share of losing seasons on the Hoya gridiron. But I could tell that his heart is still on that football field every Saturday. His persistence and loyalty to Georgetown football, win or lose, confirmed to me that Kyle will be a winner for the rest of his life.
One hundred and three years ago, Georgetown's gridders fought their way through perhaps their toughest season ever. They captured an opening game victory over local rival Gallaudet but went on to be shut out in all but one other contest. When Glenn "Pop" Warner's Carlisle Indians came to town for the season finale, they shellacked the Hoyas 76-0. Outscored on the season by a margin of 231-22, the Blue & Gray struggled through a difficult schedule, but they never surrendered.
In the middle of that painful football campaign, a new college hymn, sung to the melody of an old Welsh tune, was publicly unveiled:
Wave her colors ever,
Furl her standards never,
But raise it high and proudly cry
"We're Georgetown's sons forever."
Where Potomac's tide is streaming
From her spires and steeples beaming
See the grand old banner gleaming --
Georgetown's blue and gray.
And in the category of imagining the possible, after that "down year" in 1905, the Hoyas turned it around in 1906, winning every game but one.
PHOTO CREDIT: Cal Paulsen