It was a pleasure to be able to attend Thursday night’s annual Hoya Hoop Club Banquet. This was my first time in attendance, and here’s hoping it was not my last. Major thanks are in order to Casualty BenHoya for gifting me his ticket after he was unable to make it. He did a lot to make this possible, including reaching out to HHC to arrange for my attendance.
I arrived around 6:30 for the reception, picked up my nametag, and suddenly felt much older and much richer than I actually am. I quickly grabbed a drink (Sprite, on the rocks), and after tipping the bartender, began to mingle. I ran into Casual commenters "Son of the Voice", "zygotestar," and "Born on this Bandwagon," with "zygotestar" making sure to follow BenHoya’s instructions to say hello to me. It was a pleasure to finally add a few more Casualties to my list of people I’ve met in person, as I had yet to meet Kate and Christine. They also gave me flack on Evan’s behalf for the time I accidentally referred to him in a "View from the Student Section" piece as his father’s "Production Assistant" rather than his proper title as "Statistician" for Georgetown men’s basketball broadcasts.
Upon further mingling, I ran into two professors from my real life job at the Department of Theology. My boss, outgoing chair Father Steck, brought me in and introduced me to a few alumni/program boosters. I also happened to see longtime public address announcer and theology professor Father McFadden, who I had just partied with last week as part of a post-March Madness tournament pool party (the winning professor had decided to share his winnings with all entrants in the form of meals and drinks one evening, and Father McFadden and I were both present.)
Although I did not see a contingent from Hoya Blue, I still ran into a few students from the Pep Band. I knew a couple of members already and got to meet a few others over the course of the evening. A few other students were there besides the members of the team, including managers, reporters from campus newspapers, and a few students who are close to the program. I also ran into my good friend & Georgetown Athletics’ Director of Marketing Chris Grosse, who in addition to thanking me for my spirit made sure to remind me to tell everyone to come to the games next year. So please, all of you reading this: come to the games next year!
A few people in attendance who ran into me but who I had not met made sure to tell me that they knew me either from the games or from Twitter and that they loved what I did. One lady even told me her youngest son gets really excited when he sees me on the scoreboard. I didn’t really think people noticed it too much.
Once we got inside, the banquet itself was quite the experience. I ended up sitting with a few pep band members, the two pep band faculty advisors, the cheerleading coach, a few cheerleaders, and a young alumnus and his wife. The pep band members and I swapped stories about games in recent years. They were regaling me with stories of games past (including Syracuse—I’m so freakin’ pumped for that game already,) and I made sure to give them credit for some of their efforts. I know this blog is often critical of the Pep Band, but since this was a celebration, I made sure they knew that I was a fan of their rendition of the "Game of Thrones" theme, as well as "Hey Baby!" Having seen both, I can tell you the GU Pep Band still does it much better than GW’s band. The young alum at my table was critical of this very blog for some personal reasons. I tried to convince him out of it, but the damage had already been done. This blog is not for the faint of heart.
After a salad with bread on the side as an appetizer followed by an entrée of undercooked steak and crab cakes with potatoes, string beans, and carrots, the honoring of the season and the players began. As we wrapped up dinner, a montage of the season’s best highlights played, and our table began trading memories for each and every game. Afterward, assistant Coach Broadus came up to read off a brief honoring of each player on the team. He’s quite the funny guy and he’s not afraid to criticize the players.
We also learned quite a bit, as the team has their own nicknames & perceptions for each player. As this blog is prone to giving players nicknames, I feel this may be valuable information. For instance, Tre Campbell’s given first name is Donald and he’s considered the successor to Jabril’s hustle. Isaac Copeland is called "Benadryl" because in Coach Broadus’ words, "he’s allergic to the paint." LJ Peak is known as "Ghost," because he showed up in the first game and disappeared until the last. Paul White is "Mr. Smooth" or "Mr. Consistency," and new Hoya Akoy Agau was jokingly dubbed the "Co-Star of Captain Phillips." Interestingly enough, Bradley Hayes is the one referred to as the "Big Show," even though this blog has occasionally given Paul White that name.
Each senior present got the chance to speak, with each one providing an emotional set of words. Tyler Adams talked about having doubts about staying here. Aaron Bowen mentioned the death of his grandmother. Mikael Hopkins gave a particularly emotional speech about the help his mother gave him, and credited the coaching staff for serving as father figures to him even though his biological father left at a young age. Jabril Trawick gave a lengthy speech from the heart thanking just about everyone for helping him, giving significant shoutouts to members of his family who were in attendance.
Not in attendance, however, was senior Hoyas center Joshua Smith, who was not mentioned among the Hoyas seniors and whose only reference came when coach John Thompson III quickly mentioned that Smith was off "getting ready for the next part of his life" and then quickly suggested moving on. Read into that what you will. Here’s wishing Josh the best in his future endeavors.
After an abbreviated thought from Coach Thompson and an even quicker benediction from Father Steck, the dinner was adjourned, although I stayed around to mingle further. Some Pep Band members and I stayed around looking for photo ops with players and chances to schmooze. I snapped a picture with Hoyas star guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and teased him about his decision to declare for the NBA Draft and then return. Jabril Trawick and I took a picture together after I took one with him and a Pep Band member. I got to meet "Big Coach" John Thompson, Jr., who looked at me and asked "I haven’t met you, what’s your name?" I said, "Hi, I’m Roey" (that’s my real name if you didn’t know.) He replies, "Hi Roey, I’m John," and I respond with some bravado, "Pleasure to meet you, John." With his usual serious demeanor he cautions me, "Now I don’t like young people calling me John, call me ‘Coach.’" I’ve never been happier to be corrected, and nodded in the affirmative, "Sure thing, Coach!" He brought me in for a handshake & hug. It was awesome.
I worked the room and talked with a few other Hoyas. Reggie Cameron and I talked about the dinner for a minute and I asked him if I’ll be seeing him next year. He nodded and said "Yep" timidly. I’m not sure if that means he may still be transferring and is nervous about it, or if that’s because of the fact that he’s naturally a bit introverted. Again, read into that what you will. I talked with Riyan Williams and Aaron Bowen, who both appreciated my very shiny blue tie. Both of them seem like nice guys, particularly Williams. He seems to have been raised very well and I’m hoping to see him provide valuable positive on-court contributions to the Hoyas squad. It should be a nice reward for his dedication to the team as a walk-on.
I also got to hear Coach Thompson talk about his seniors in an intimate conversation, and while he was his naturally pessimistic self, he still seemed to realistically see at least one of his seniors (Jabril) get a significant chance at latching onto an NBA team. Finally, shortly before heading out, I came back full circle and ran into Son of the Voice, zygotestar, and Born on this Bandwagon, all of whom were in a celebratory mood after the dinner, We got to swap a few funny stories about the dinner and recent Hoyas history.
I headed out of the Leavey Center Ballroom with my head held high. Again I was reminded that the Hoyas basketball community is now a community of friends for me (and that includes you readers too!) Thanks again to BenHoya for the ticket and for helping make this happen, and thanks to all of you guys for welcoming me. None of this would have happened without this website. I’m already looking forward to getting back to the Hilltop after my impending summer break and cheering on the Hoyas again.