GW Baseball Welcomes Record Number of Alumni at Annual Golf Outing

Oct. 17, 2016


This post was written by GW Baseball junior outfielder Mark Osis

The annual George Washington Baseball golf outing is a day that present and former players look forward to. It is an event where former players reconnect with old teammates, current teammates spend quality time together, and a chance for everyone to prove their worth on the links.

Following opening remarks from head coach Gregg Ritchie, the foursomes comprised of alumni, current players with family, and program donors scattered the course to prepare for a shotgun start. However, this would not be a normal round of golf. The groupings would play a competitive best-ball style of golf, in which each player hits a shot and the best of the four is used by all of them for the next shot. Just before noon the golfers teed off with prizes and bragging rights on the line.

One of the favorite moments of the day came halfway through the round when golfers found a Demarini baseball bat in the tee box. Everyone was in for a laugh as they watched one another hit their tee shot by tossing the golf ball up to themselves and hitting it with the baseball bat. A task more difficult than it might sound, I saw firsthand more balls go sideways and backwards than I saw hit the fairway. About a hundred yards out was marker for the furthest “drive,” an upbeat and fun twist to the competition. Other individual hole competitions included closest to the pin on a par three, and longest drive with an actual golf club.

As the night wore on, the groups finished their rounds and made their way back to the clubhouse for the post-round dinner. After a long day on the course, everyone had their eyes set on the buffet in the back. As we ate and continued conversation, Coach Ritchie took the microphone to thank everyone for coming, and gave a brief update of the status of the program.

 

 

He talked about Joey Bartosic and Eddie Muhl receiving All-Region honors after last season, taking the Cape Cod League by storm this summer with five players (Muhl, Bartosic, Robbie Metz, Brandon Chapman, Jordan Sheinkop), two All-Stars (Metz, Muhl), and the programs first Most Valuable Pitcher (Muhl) in Cotuit.

Ritchie also spoke of the 2016 team’s ability to find success despite adversity, as we overcame crucial injuries and staff changes and managed to battle the nation’s top competition and earn a berth in the Atlantic 10 Championship. On at least four occasions he mentioned how we “stomped” Maryland 19-10, to the delight and applause of everyone in attendance.

More than individual accomplishments or last season’s victories, Coach Ritchie spoke passionately about the culture change we’ve seen in a few short years. The mentality of this team has become more unified in our pursuit of an A-10 championship and beyond, as well as a dedication to service and academic excellence, and it was clear he was very proud of that.

Before bringing up the honored guest speakers, Ritchie said “there’s a change in the way things are done. This is about family, guys who have paved the way and guys who are continuing to push the program forward. This is the GW Baseball family, and it’s great to have all of us here.”

It was clear to see how much our alumni care, as this was our largest turnout of alumni in the last few years, with graduation years ranging from 1971-2016. On the course and during the banquet, current and former players were able to meet, share stories of our time here, and share in the bond that we all have as Colonials, and that was something special I will never forget.

For us to grow as a program, we must learn about where it has been and the strides we have already made. We had the privilege of hearing from Joe Ross, 1989 graduate and two-time team MVP (’88 and ’89), talk about his time playing on the Ellipse, winning an A-10 Championship in 1989, and making lifelong memories with his teammates. Coach Ritchie told me afterwards that honoring a Colonial with such standout character as well as performance – someone who may be an unsung hero – is one of his favorite things about the golf outing, and something we will continue to do going forward. It was really cool for me and my teammates to see that coach would go through the history books and find a guy who was underappreciated in his time, and use our largest alumni gathering to give Joe Ross his day.

The stage was then given to two recent alumni, 2013 MVP and Warren Fulton Award winner Justin Albright, and 2016 shortstop and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 18th round draft pick Kevin Mahala.

Albright spoke first and was quick to note that though we may not all have stories of playing on the Ellipse, or trying our hand at pro ball after our GW career, we all have our own unique story worth sharing. As he shared his stories of blasting music in the vans on the way to practice, draining workouts, blistering cold days of practice, and long road trips full of team bonding, he looked to the back where my teammates and I were gathered and urged us to appreciate the little moments. “You’ll remember it all,” he said. “Every difficult day at the field, time in the locker room with the boys, it all adds up to make these years great. And it goes by like that,” he said as he snapped his fingers. “I implore you, make each day count and love every minute of it, because not all of us in this room get to suit up when this season rolls around, but we all would give anything to do it one more time.” I could tell all the guys were taking in what he said, and these words would not be forgotten when we left the banquet hall that night.

Following Albright’s powerful words, Mahala took the stage in front of some of his best friends. Had he not been drafted last year, he would have been a senior on our team this year, and it was clear the opportunity to speak in front of so many of his former teammates and good friends meant a good deal to him. Mahala spoke about the culture change he saw in the program since his freshman fall in 2013. The way both he and Alright talked about Coach Ritchie and the things he has been able to do to “right the ship” and get this program back to excellence certainly flattered coach. He also talked about the coaching staff’s ability to develop players from humble beginnings and allow them to become Cape Cod and Professional All-Stars, to which we are all witness. Kevin shared about his time in the Pirates organization, calling it a “childhood dream come true,” but also noted that his decision to forgo his senior year in exchange for the opportunity of a lifetime was so difficult simply because of the great friendships he had made here. Speaking about one of his major takeaways since joining the Pirates in June, he said: “In our mental development meetings, we are taught to dream bigger than we think we should. It’s a scary idea at times, but it is only this type of thinking that will take you where you want to be.”

Last year, Kevin was a friend of mine who played shortstop and would get food with me after practice from time to time. Now, he was a New York-Penn League All-Star speaking at the golf outing daring all of us to dream bigger. For many in the room, it was a full-circle moment, and definitely exciting to hear both how he was growing and how his dedication to GW has not wavered.

This year’s outing had a different feel than ones in the past. From start to finish, there was an increase in conversation between generations than my previous experiences. We shared laughs, memories, and quality time with other members of the GW Baseball family. Because that is what we are – a family.

Numerous alumni told us if we ever needed anything, from a job opportunity to life advice, they would be there for us. In turn, they expect us to continue to do the right things and build the legacy of their alma mater. In our pursuit to push the limits of what this program can be, we have to do it together, and this has never been clearer. As this year’s senior class takes in all the “lasts” of their career at GW, it is encouraging to know that the golf outing will be here for all of us for years to come, to know that we will always be welcomed back.

- Mark Osis

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