May 24, 2012
WASHINGTON - Perhaps the most recognizable Georgetown University graduate in the Class of 2012 was a former student-athlete who left school after his junior year in 2007 and tested the professional waters. Upon being drafted he spent five years pursuing his dream by playing the sport as a pro.
Sure, former men's basketball All-American Jeff Green was the most recognizable. But there was another former Hoya athletic standout who had a similar experience.
Matt Bouchard, a standout second baseman for the Georgetown baseball team from 2005-07, left school after his junior year, when he was a 12th round pick in the Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Mets.
Bouchard started his professional career in the summer of 2007 with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League. In 2008, he played for the Savannah Sand Gnats, a class A team of the Mets. The following year, the organization had Bouchard skip the "high" A team and started him with their Double A team, the Binghamton Mets.
"It was a good experience for me," Bouchard said. "They liked me a lot and I was sort of on a fast track and they were pushing me along. I had the experience of playing in some Major League spring training games and actually did well."
But because baseball crosses over both academic semesters, Bouchard never had a chance to return to school to complete his final year of school.
And then a series of injuries - on both sides of his hip, a sports hernia and three separate surgeries - started to slow down his ascent to the Major Leagues. He spent most of his off-seasons over the last five years either playing winter baseball in Florida or in rehabilitation from his injury.
Each year, Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk would call to ask him if he was returning to finish his degree, which he did this year after hanging up his glove or bat.
Bouchard, who played in the minor leagues with many of the players currently on the Mets roster (Dylan Gee, Ruben Tejada (a former roommate), Lucas Duda and Ike Davis among others), returned to school this year and finished his final 12 credits and interned with Merrill Lynch, working under former baseball player Mark Siegel (B'89) in their wealth management division.
"It was probably my greatest achievement," Bouchard said of his graduation. "I never thought I would have enough time or energy to back and graduate. I also had to jam 12 classes in before May after being away so many years, so I knew it would be difficult. Somehow, I pulled it off and managed to have my two best semesters grade-wise."
Bouchard, who earned his degree in finance and is currently interviewing for jobs in New York City, appreciated the reminders from Wilk to return and the help of academic advisor Dr. Shelly Habel, as well as Patricia Louison, Senior Assistant Dean at the McDonough School of Business.
"I'm just fortunate that I had an education from Georgetown, which most athletes do not, to fall back on and great people here to support me," Bouchard said.