Baseball Student-Athletes Become First Graduates of Class of 2018
Nine Colonials officially earn degrees at Athletics Commencement Ceremony
Inside the intimate Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater at the Marvin Center, nine George Washington baseball student-athletes made history as the first official graduates of the Class of 2018.
The Athletics Commencement Ceremony, held to properly send off the graduating class that will miss their respective school graduations this week when the Colonials travel to the Saint Louis, was also momentous for another reason.
It marked the first commencement exercise of the George Washington University President Dr. Thomas LeBlanc, who was inaugurated in November 2017.
Surrounded by family, friends, teammates, athletic department staff and University administrators, the ceremony mirrored the sentimental and historic qualities of a traditional commencement, but on a much more intimate scale.
The ceremony began with a processional into the theater led by University Marshal Sylvia Marotta-Walters, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman, head coach Gregg Ritchie and President LeBlanc.
The attendees were treated to a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Claire Miller, ESIA B.A. '18, before officially being welcomed by Provost Maltzman.
After opening remarks from Maltzman, Coach Ritchie addressed his graduating class and commended the group for achieving the tremendous step in their lives which stands as the culmination of a four-year journey. He cited the degree from GW, which Ritchie earned himself as a graduate in 1986, as representing nothing short of excellence.
Ritchie shared with the audience that each season a new slogan is printed on shirts and distributed to the baseball team. He explained that those slogans, although primarily printed in reference to that particular baseball season, will have meaning for the rest of their lives long after the wording fades or the players outgrow them.
The first slogan was 'Grit and Gratitude', that no matter what life throws at you down the line you will meet it head on, accept the challenge and finish the right way.
Last year's shirt featured the slogan 'Pack A Lunch'. Meaning, the road ahead is long so be prepared to spend extended time working to meet a particular goal.
This year's slogan is 'Poise, Patience, Presence, Pride', which is how you should meet every endeavor, challenge and task. If you stick to that slogan, you will find a way to the finish line. On the back of this year's shirt it says 'Don't Miss It'. That not only refers to the ball when at the plate, but it also speaks to opportunities that life will give you, or ones that you earn on your own merit.
Senior catcher Brandon Chapman addressed his fellow graduates and recalled a time during his recruitment where Coach Ritchie said that he needs his catcher to be a rock behind the plate. Chapman then turned to his classmates and explained that they have been his rock over four years at GW.
Chapman shared with the audience that his biggest takeaway from his undergraduate career is family. He praised the GW Baseball community and explained his amazement about how the relationships after leaving GW run deeper beyond being teammates on the field.
Chapman also thanked the coaching staff for treating him and his teammates as men the entire time they were at GW, despite coming to campus as wide-eyed freshmen in 2014. He thanked them for pushing them on the field, in the classroom and in the community and is grateful as the man he has become over the past four years.
LeBlanc then took to the lectern and delivered his first-ever charge to graduates as the University President. He shared how he couldn't be happier to share the stage with a group of students that have exemplified their commitment to athletics, academics and their communities.
LeBlanc shared with the audience that he views athletics as a public demonstration of discipline and excellence and then commended the graduates for seeking out an academic and athletic challenge and being committed to the journey which brought them to commencement today.
President LeBlanc then officially conferred the degrees and congratulated the Class of 2018 to resounding applause.
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