GW Basketball's Colonials Invasion Honors Military, History at Fort Myer

Freshman Paris Maragkos is pushed through the Military Challenge by drill sergeants during Colonials Invasion at Fort Myer's Conmy Hall on Friday.

Oct. 15, 2012

Colonials Invasion 2012 Photo Gallery

The George Washington University Men's and Women's Basketball teams proudly held the annual Colonials Invasion season tip-off event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in nearby Fort Myer, Va., on Friday night. With the men's team tracing its roots back to the venerable facility where it played home games from 1956 to 1975, the night was equal parts celebrating GW basketball and honoring the brave men and women of the military.

"Having the opportunity to come back to Conmy Hall, where a lot of our teams played in the past, and especially with having the military here, it was great for our players and fans to be able to be a part of this," noted men's basketball coach Mike Lonergan. "It was a great experience."

After a court-sized American flag loomed large over the assembled floor during the National Anthem, homage was paid to the servicemen, servicewomen and their families throughout the evening in a variety of fan-friendly initiatives.

Performances came from the Colonial Brass, the GW Cheer Team, the First Ladies and Capital Funk dance groups, a dance party with George, Big George and men's and women's basketball players, and even some surprise Gangnam Style from the GW women's lacrosse team.

Former GW men's basketball greats Bob Tallent, Randy Click and Pops Mensah-Bonsu were all in attendance and recognized with on-court presentations, and new baseball head coach Gregg Ritchie talked to the crowd about his return to his alma mater and Operation Hat Trick, which generates royalties from the sale of special military-themed hats that go back to support the Veteran's Administration General Post Fund.

When the basketball's came out, it was freshman Patricio Garino who dazzled the crowd with a dunk literally over 6-foot-9 teammate Isaiah Armwood and women's senior Megan Nipe. Not to be outdone, senior Dwayne Smith took a pass off the backboard from women's graduate student Sara Mostafa and slammed down a powerful windmill jam that brought his teammates and the crowd to their feet.

The evening was perhaps best remembered though for the children of military families bouncing around the court with members of the men's and women's teams during introductions; or drill sergeants pounding out push-ups alongside freshman Paris Maragkos in motivating him through a military-style challenge; or better yet, the skill and precision of the U.S. Army Drill Team who kept the masses in stunned silence as they swung their bayonets and rifles in death-defying fashion.

Still, there was the basketball component to the festivities, and GW fans were treated to their first glimpse of the 2012-13 Colonials. The basketball teams were introduced by year, with the heralded crop of five freshmen getting the loudest roars on the men's side.

For the women, it was first-year head coach Jonathan Tsipis whose excitement was contagious.

"One thing that I know that I'm going to bring every day is enthusiasm, and it was fun to see that in our student-athletes tonight," said Coach Tsipis. "In everything they did there was enthusiasm. Whether it was a skills challenge, military challenge, the dunk contest, or showing off their best dance moves, I told them that the game of basketball is a lot of things, but first and foremost it has to be fun."

"We're beginning a new era of women's basketball at George Washington under Coach Tsipis," said graduate student Tara Booker. "Having Colonials Invasion on a military base this season was a perfect reminder of the great opportunity we have as student-athletes to represent more than just ourselves."

The latest in a long line of events in which GW keeps the U.S. military top of mind, Colonials Invasion followed the men's basketball team's recent visits to CNIC/Naval Support Activity in Naples, Italy and U.S. Army base Camp Darby near the Italian city of Livorno as part of its goodwill tour through the country in August.

"It was our true honor to conduct the event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall," said Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero. "The men and women who serve our country are our heroes, and at George Washington we want to continue to show our admiration and respect for our servicemen, servicewomen, veterans and their families. In everything we do as an athletics department, we want to mirror the mission of the university, and showing our support and appreciation for our veterans and military programs is really important to GW."

After a rousing Friday Night at Fort Myer, mission accomplished.



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