Athletics News

Still-Competing Student-Athletes Recognized in Special Commencement

GW President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman conferred degrees upon 10 student-athletes who participated in a special commencement ceremony Tuesday at the Marvin Center.

May 10, 2011

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WASHINGTON, DC - A group of 10 graduating student-athletes were honored in a special commencement Tuesday at the Marvin Center on the GW campus.

The student-athletes will be away from the Washington area competing with their respective teams when the majority of graduating seniors take part in the main commencement Sunday on the National Mall.

It's the sixth year in which the student-athletes had their graduation ceremony ahead of the main commencement, but the first that included student-athletes from teams other than the Colonials rowing teams. During Sunday's main commencement, the GW Baseball team will be playing Xavier in Cincinnati and the men's tennis team will be competing in the NCAA Championships against Duke in Durham, NC. The men's rowing team will be competing in the Eastern Sprints in Wooster, MA, and the women will be rowing in the EAWRC Sprints in Camden, NJ.

The graduates are Craig Helmstetter, Guy Tawney, David Morgenstern and Margaret Barone (Men's Rowing); Alexandra Hamilton (Women's Rowing); Tommy Gately and Joe Motto (Baseball); and Erik Hannah, Christopher Kushma and Andy Erickson (Men's Tennis).

GW Marshall Jill Kasle presided over the ceremony, President Steven Knapp delivered the charge to the students and the Potomac Brass provided the musical accompaniment for the procession.

Provost Steven Lerman spoke to the graduates, saying "This Sunday, many of your classmates will gather on the National Mall for Commencement. Your dedication to GW athletics will take you elsewhere. Thank you for your hard work, good sportsmanship and drive to win. Congratulations on earning your degree."

Rowing's Helmstetter was the student speaker. In addressing his fellow graduates he said, "As we move on to the next steps of our lives, I challenge my teammates to continue to maintain their perseverance, to help others realize the GW Spirit."

Coaches from each of the sports represented in the ceremony also spoke. Men's rowing coach Mark Davis said he often had his four graduating seniors stop when they were in the water to take in their surroundings.

"We watched the cars sitting in traffic; the metro train headed into the city. I reminded them to enjoy the moment, for one day they'll be in that car or on that train and they'll be dreaming of their days on the water."

Women's rowing coach Eric Carcich told his lone graduating senior (Hamilton) that he was "Really proud of her leadership abilities."

Tennis coach Greg Munoz told his trio of graduates, "I`m excited to see these three young men move on and accomplish greatness in the same manner they showed excellence here at GW."

Baseball assistant coach Jon Greenwich said of his two graduates that being a Division I athlete and a student at GW were full-time jobs. "Either of these endeavors alone would be an immense challenge, and these young men have done both, and they've done both very well."

The idea for the special ceremony to confer degrees upon a few student-athletes was spawned under former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and the tradition was continued by President Knapp who presided over the third such ceremony during his tenure on Tuesday.