What a four years it was. The class of 1999 was treated to many of the events that made the 1990s one of the golden ages of Colonials athletics. Without any further ado, here’s part one of our trip down the lane:
Summer, 1995: President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and men’s basketball coach Mike Jarvis give convicted sex-offender Richie Parker a second chance. Under pressure, GW tells Parker he can’t come here. Sports Illustrated reports a heartbreaking scene as Parker purchases GW apparel at the bookstore – his heart set on being a Colonial.
A year later, Parker will get a shot at Long Island University. The woman he was convicted of abusing will be offered a scholarship by SJT. Meanwhile, the Colonials get a commitment from guard Shawnta Rogers, who is said to be 5-5. Jarvis is considered for the Boston Celtics job.
September: Volleyball player Svetlana Vtyurina sets an NCAA record with 56 kills in a single match. Marc Hagen is named swimming coach.
One day in the Smith Center Syracuse stars Lawrence Moten and Sherman Douglas and guard Michael Lloyd lock horns with GW players, including newcomer “Egor Mechtcheriakov.” The Smith Center replaces the free-standing baskets used for games with ceiling-hung backboards.
October: The men’s water polo team receives its first-ever ranking, making it to 16th in the country.
November: The entire front page of The Hatchet (in color!) is devoted to Vtyurina, as she breaks the all-time NCAA kill record at the Smith Center. She ended her career with 3,043 kills, smashing the old record of 2,932. The volleyball team advances to the NCAAs, losing in the second round.
December: The women’s basketball team gets obliterated at the Smith Center by the U.S. women’s national team, 110-37. GW leads 12-10, but by halftime it’s 60-22, U.S.A. The national team gets 16 points each from Sheryl Swoopes and Nikki McCray. Still, GW is happy just to play the game. One participant remarked, “That was the most enjoyable 70-point loss I’ve ever been involved in.”
Shawnta Rogers, listed at 5-3 now, joins the team in Sacramento after getting his academics sorted out. In his second game, he sinks two free throws to send it to overtime. He scores nine points in the second OT to secure the win. Fellow freshman Yegor Mescheriakov is named most valuable player of the Sacramento Holiday Classic.
January, 1996: Club ice hockey begins at GW. The cheerleading squad makes it to the semifinals of the National Championships at Disney World and appears on ESPN. At the Smith Center, men’s basketball thumps eighth-ranked Virginia Tech 64-47.
February: The GW men beat Temple for the first time at the Smith Center (after 14 tries). Senior Kwame Evans, who will become GW’s fourth all-time scorer, drops in 36 at Homecoming. The men and women both finish perfect at home.
The 26-0 Massachusetts Minutemen had lost only once at the Mullins Center – the year before to GW. The Colonials again shock the number-one team in the country as sophomore Alexander Koul controls Marcus Camby, while freshman J.J. Brade shoots 7-for-7 from the field and scores 16 points to fuel the 86-76 upset.
March: The women win the Atlantic 10 regular-season and tournament titles. They beat the University of Maine in the NCAAs (improving their NCAA first-round record to 5-0) but then fall to the University of Virginia.
Kwame Evans makes the A-10 First Team, but the men are buried in a 25-6 run at the end of their NCAA game and lose to the University of Iowa, 81-79.
April: GW men’s and women’s tennis both finish second in the A-10.
August: Tom Walter is named baseball coach. Men’s soccer wins its first game at its new field in Loudon County, Va.
October: Steve Peterson becomes crew coach. GW hosts Colonial Madness for the basketball teams.
Women’s soccer breaks into the top 25 after notching its first-ever win over Virginia. Then, in on of its biggest matches ever, the women’s soccer team ties nationally ranked George Mason.
Meanwhile, the University benches several swimmers for a hazing incident while water polo coach Andy Turnage resigns after a suspension. Turnage tells The Hatchet he was suspended for rooming with a female student manager on the road whom he said was a family friend. Trevor Rodin takes over as coach.
November: The men’s basketball team is named a preseason “Sweet Sixteen” team by Sports Illustrated. To complement Alexander Koul’s No. 45, Shawnta Rogers changes from No. 10 to No. 54, and suddenly he’s 5-4 in the media guide. The highly anticipated season opens with an exhibition game against Court Authority. The Colonials need overtime and the heroics of walk-on Sam Anyan to secure the 88-86 win. It’s all downhill from there.
The women’s soccer team plays in its first NCAA game, and loses to the University of Maryland.
December: The men’s basketball team loses its last game at USAir Arena to Maryland in the Franklin National Bank Classic championship game.
January, 1997: After three years in the NBA, former GW player Yinka Dare records his first assist. The women’s basketball team forces 42 turnovers in a win over Rhode Island.
February: In front of a regular-season record crowd of 2,783 at the Smith Center, the women pound No. 22 Western Kentucky 88-63. They move into the top 25 and finish the regular season 16-0 in the A-10. Coach Joe McKeown gets “16-0” shaved into the back of his head to memorialize the accomplishment.
March: The women romp to the A-10 final, where their 22-game winning streak and 35-game home streak is ended by St. Joseph’s. Meanwhile, the men have finished the regular season 15-13, including a bizarre 14-game streak where they neither won nor lost two games in a row. The men go to the National Invitational Tournament and lose to Michigan State University.
The women are led into the NCAAs by Tajama Abraham, who became the women’s all-time leading scorer. The women beat Northwestern and Tulane universities at the Smith Center to open the NCAAs. They knock off top-seeded University of North Carolina to make the unbelievable a possibility. Life pauses in Foggy Bottom as GW takes on the University of Notre Dame for a berth in the Final Four. But the Colonial women fall short, 62-52. Abraham is named A-10 Player of the Year, and Coach McKeown is named A-10 Coach of the Year.
Completing a great year for women’s sports at GW, the gymnastics team returns to the NCAAs.
April: After entertaining the possibility of becoming the coach of the New York Liberty of the WNBA, Joe McKeown decides to stay at GW. Tajama Abraham is named a first-team Kodak All-American.
Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke dies at GW Hospital.
Look in Monday’s Hatchet for part two: 1997-present