I recently had a chance to visit campus and take a tour of the John R. Thompson, Jr. Athletic Center, Georgetown’s new athletics facility that will be formally dedicated on Thursday, October 6th. For those unaware, the Thompson Center contains new practice courts, locker rooms, team meeting rooms, lounge areas and coaches' offices for men's and women's basketball. In addition to basketball, the Thompson Center has a weight training facility for all varsity student-athletes, a student-athlete academic center, auditorium and team meeting facilities for all varsity sports programs and will be the new home for the Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame that honors the University's rich athletic tradition and history.
As an alum of the school I was admittedly a bit skeptical during the initial fundraising and construction efforts for the Thompson Center as time and time again we have been promised wondrous new additions to the athletics program at the school only for the finished product (or never-finished product, as the case may have been) to leave a lot to be desired. However, and I can’t really emphasize this enough: The Thompson Center is spectacular and represents a seismic shift for the future of Georgetown basketball.
To truly appreciate what The Thompson Center means for the school going forward, one must have an understanding of what it was like in the past. McDonough Gymnasium, the current home for Georgetown varsity athletics, is exactly what it sounds like: an old gym. In addition to housing a basketball court, McDonough has connecting offices for Athletics Department staffers, coaches and a weight room not even halfway as impressive as the one in your local gym. It is a dimly lit venue with very narrow hallways, so narrow that, if you were a visiting recruit, you’d likely have to step over various equipment items that may have been left there by the football, lacrosse and soccer teams. In case I haven’t painted the picture appropriately, to put it bluntly McDonough didn’t help Georgetown to recruit athletes to the school. To the contrary, it likely was a large deterrent to success, kind of like when you bring a guy or girl back to your apartment but your bedroom is a mess and you have to spend all of your time in the living room and then you’re forced to call an Uber so your guest can get out of there quickly.
But now, things have changed! I have had the chance to visit a few “Power 5” schools, and I can say that without question that The Thompson Center puts Georgetown on equal or better footing when it comes to its athletics facilities. I know what you’re thinking, something akin to: “whatever dude you’re supposed to say that” or “oh great, now Casual is drinking the blue and gray kool-aid.” But really, it’s true! Here, take a look at some pics from my adventure:
So there you go. It’s tough to provide an accurate description of how great this new facility is, but for those that will be unable to see it in person, hopefully the pics above can at least provide you with a taste.
Again, the importance of this building to the future of Georgetown basketball cannot be understated. With The Thompson Center now open for business, no recruit will ever use “I didn’t like the facilities” as a reason to attend another school. In the current landscape of college hoops recruiting, having a facility like this one puts Georgetown firmly in the mix for best in the country, which is so shocking to me as a Georgetown alum that I can’t believe I actually typed it.
Kudos to Athletics Director Lee Reed and everyone in the Athletics Department that worked on the vision for The Thompson Center, and special thanks to those who donated money to the fundraising effort to make it a reality. Field of Dreams, one of my personal favorite films, begins with the haunting voice in the cornfields whispering “If You Build It, He Will Come”. That film, as it did with most guys who have ever had a catch with their dads, rendered me a blabbering fool with cheeks stained with tears of joy. Well, this isn’t Iowa, it’s
heaven Georgetown, and now we’ve built it.
I’m excited to see who and what it may bring.