Baseball seniors told to keep ‘stepping up to the plate’ at athletics commencement

Media Credit: SAM HARDGROVE | ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR

Baseball head coach Gregg Ritchie told his graduating players to keep taking advantage of the chances and opportunities they receive throughout their lives at the athletics commencement Tuesday.

In lieu of their usual buff and blue uniforms, fourteen graduating seniors from the baseball team donned caps and gowns to receive their degrees and be recognized for their work on and off the field at Tuesday’s athletics commencement.

In the first ceremony of Commencement week, Provost Forrest Maltzman, head coach Gregg Ritchie, graduating pitcher Eddie Muhl and University President Steven Knapp took the stage in the Betts Theatre to share messages of perseverance and brotherhood with the graduating seniors.

Tuesday’s ceremony marked the graduation of Ritchie’s first recruiting class and the last athletics commencement for Knapp, who will leave the presidency this summer.

1. ‘It ain’t over til it’s over’

In his address to the graduates, Maltzman compared graduating from college to playing baseball.

“One never knows what comes next, but one always has hope until that final inning, even when it’s the fourteenth inning,” he said. “And one never knows when the final inning is coming, and it is for that reason that Yogi Bera famously exclaimed, ‘It ain’t over til it’s over.’”

Maltzman told the group to continue learning throughout their lives and realize that graduating from GW does not mark the end of their educational journey.

“Not only do I hope your education is not over, I also hope your connections to GW are not over,” he said.

2. Stepping up to the plate

Ritchie reflected on his last four years coaching the group of seniors that he recruited in his first year at GW. He urged his graduating players to keep “stepping up to the plate” in life by fearlessly taking advantage of chances and opportunities.

“Stepping up to the plate is a primary move in making something happen,” he said. “Don’t stop taking the at-bats and your life will be full of chances for success when you aptly put yourself into the game right.”

Fighting back tears, Ritchie told his players that friends and family in the audience have “unshakable belief” in them as they embark on their next steps in life.

“What we were most confident about and saw lurking beneath those freshman eyes, was exceptional character in each of you,” Ritchie said. “You have become honest, caring, trustworthy men and have committed to living up to a high level of standards.”

3. A lifelong bond

Closer Eddie Muhl told his graduating teammates that he’s “eternally grateful” for the lifelong bonds they’ve formed as a team.

“This group of men graduating today inspire, motivate and challenge me to charge forward at life’s challenges with utter conviction and joy in my heart,” he said. “When I run into the bullpen at left field I do so without fear or hesitation, because I know that my brothers have my back no matter the outcome.”

4. A home away from home

In his final athletics commencement address, Knapp challenged the graduates to keep living by the traits they learned on the field even after graduation.

“I charge you, keep alive the spirit, the energy, the imagination and the commitment to service that have won our admiration in your years in our midst,” Knapp said.

He reminded the graduates that they always have a home away from home at GW.

“You are our future, we depend on you to repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left unbuilt, to learn what we have not yet learned, to heal what we have so far left unhealed,” Knapp said. “And as you go forth to do these things always know that at the George Washington University, you have a home in the heart of this nation’s capital.”

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