GW athletics – much more than men’s basketball

For those of you who are new to campus – and perhaps for many of you who have been here for several years – the following statement may come as quite a shock:

Men’s basketball is not the only sport at GW.

Whew. I know that was a tough one to stomach, but it will make everything else I have to tell you more palatable.

With all the hype and hoopla surrounding the men’s basketball program in Foggy Bottom (it will probably be even worse this year with new head coach Tom Penders), GW’s other 16 varsity sports tend to get lost in the shuffle.

Don’t get me wrong – the basketball team is the centerpiece of GW’s athletic program and deserves the attention it receives. But in any given year, the men’s basketball team is not necessarily the best team on campus. For instance, three other teams on campus made their respective NCAA tournaments last year (women’s basketball, women’s crew and gymnastics) and three narrowly missed, making the NCAA postseason (men’s water polo, women’s soccer and baseball).

The point is this: If the only sporting events you attend this season are men’s basketball games, you’re probably missing out on seeing some pretty good athletes compete.

Unfortunately, attending men’s and women’s soccer games in the fall is nearly impossible unless you have a car and a lot of spare time to make the pilgrimage to the teams’ home field in South Riding, Va., near Dulles Airport. But if you get a chance (shuttle buses occasionally run to weekend games), you should definitely check out the women’s team, a perennial powerhouse in the Atlantic 10 that often finds itself nationally ranked.

It also will be pretty difficult to watch the men’s and women’s cross country teams compete in the fall at their home course in Centreville, Va. There’s no excuse, however, for not attending the games of the other two fall teams – women’s volleyball and men’s water polo. Both teams play their home matches in the Smith Center. Volleyball is an up-and-coming program that graduated no seniors from last season, and the water polo team has built a foundation that may lead to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

In the winter, you can watch plenty of other sports when the men’s basketball team is not in action. If you see just one other GW sport this academic year, it should be woman’s basketball game at the Smith Center. After losing no seniors from last year’s team, which made it to the second round of the NCAAs, the Colonial women are poised to make some noise in 1998-99.

The gymnastics team and both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams compete in the Smith Center during the winter as well, and all three are usually near the top of the A-10.

In the spring, your best bet will be the men’s and women’s crew teams, who usually host a couple of regattas on the Potomac River. Women’s crew features a varsity eight boat that made it to NCAAs last season, the first time any GW boat made the NCAAs . Golf, men’s and women’s tennis and baseball compete off campus. But if you ever venture across the river to Virginia, check out the baseball team, which is coming off one of the best seasons in school history.

So, try to avoid being the typical one-dimensional GW sports fan who goes to every men’s basketball home game and never sees another GW sport in their four years. You just might like what you see.

-Dustin Gouker

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