Senior inspiration from Mark Lund

This Saturday at noon, GW will take the court for its last home game of this disappointing season. Mark Lund will be on the sidelines for his last regular season game as a Colonial, and in celebration of Senior Day, I think all students should show up.

As part of the graduating senior class, I have been privileged to witness Mark’s career here at GW, and he has provided me with life lessons that so many professors have failed to teach. So many students have also missed the message. Nathan Richter wrote on Monday in this space ($135,000 for a basketball game?) that, If you have the luxury of attending a Colonials game then may I suggest that you `do something for once’ and start earning your education.

Surely not all of us are so pious in our pursuit of education. And surely those students who find basketball games a luxury should try attending for once. Watching Mark from the stands is something that resum?-hogs like Richter should witness first hand. They might learn something.

The fact is Mark has earned our support in the four years that we’ve been attending games. It’s not a luxury, but a duty to his dedication that we show up. I’ve canceled work, skipped studying, even come back from vacation early just to watch him sit on the bench. In fact, he doesn’t sit at all. He has too much passion for each game, and his own teammates. He stands for two straight hours. The first game I went to, my friend and I saw some skinny white kid shagging basketballs for Alexander Koul, Yegor Mescheriakov and Shawnta Rogers. Little did we know that four years later, he’d still be there.

Yes, in four years the program has changed. We weathered through tough times, seeing the likes of Super Fan Mike, Big George or Rasheed Hazzard’s bitching. And we saw good times, like the Xavier games, end of the Dog Pound, or Andrei Krivinos’ defense. But Mark has remained constant in his hard work and dedication to the team. Maybe a certain freshman that shoots too much and doesn’t play defense should take heed of Mark’s example of team play. As this team rebuilds and inevitably gets much better, I hope the guys who came in contact with Mark will continue to follow his example.

As all of us depart GW, the lessons we’ve learned simply by watching Mark will propel us toward bright futures. Work to make the team, succeed while foregoing personal accomplishment. Work as hard today as you did yesterday and do the same tomorrow. Dream big, and the means to that dream will be rewarding. Lead by example, not by mouthing off. Always be optimistic.

I have never in my four years seen a player who comes to every game with the same enthusiasm as he does. And in light of the upcoming Temple game, I bet he thinks we can win. You couldn’t find three people in the country who think we have a shot at that game, but he’s one of them. I always ask him before every year how he thinks we’ll do, and every year he thinks we are good enough to compete with anyone.

Even when Koul fouled out of every game. Even when Seco Camara was our three-point threat. Even when Shawnta thought more about the NBA scouts than winning. And even when Val Brown shoots 2-for-232. He’s still optimistic, which not many of us here at GW are. So much of the student body, including myself, thinks that we are somehow entitled to this education, this University, simply by who we are, how many activities we do, how many internships we can add to our resum?s. Mark has taught us differently. We aren’t entitled to anything except what we work for. And Mark has worked for one simple entitlement; that you come to Senior Day to thank him.

From out of nowhere came a white guy from Alaska and changed GW forever. Before they called him The People’s Champion or half the freshmen thought they were cool by yelling, Put in Mark! Mark had to motivate himself to work for what he dreamed of. No one was around to cheer him on in his tryouts and practices. Yet he won a seat on the sidelines but still he refuses to sit, instead inspiring his teammates to follow his leadership.

And he does it all in such a humble manner. If the student body referred to me as The People’s Champion, you bet I’d flaunt that around. (Just imagine the pick-up lines you could use with a name like that.) Yet Mark never struts around campus thinking he’s any more special than the rest of us. Even if he were vice president of the College Democrats, he probably wouldn’t tell you, a la Mr. Richter.

We owe Mark our gratitude. I hope to see you there on Saturday, where we can truly say, Mark Lund, thanks for the memories.

-The writer is a senior majoring in international affairs.

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