Updated: May 17, 2018 at 8:12 a.m.
Nine members of the baseball team walked onto the stage of the Dorothy Betts Theatre donning caps and gowns to receive their degrees at Tuesday’s athletics commencement.
In the first ceremony of Commencement weekend, the graduating student athletes were the first members of the Class of 2018 to have their degrees conferred by University President Thomas LeBlanc.
LeBlanc, Provost Forrest Maltzman, head coach Gregg Ritchie and graduating senior catcher Brandon Chapman offered words of advice and congratulations to the graduating class.
1. Never stop taking ‘healthy risks’
Maltzman spoke about the unpredictable nature of life by comparing it to the game of baseball in his address to the graduates.
“One never knows what comes next,” Maltzman said. “But one always has hope until the final inning. And one never knows when the final inning is coming.”
Maltzman encouraged the graduates to continue taking “healthy risks” in life to always continue learning.
“We hope to have instilled in you a lifelong love of questioning, exploring and asking tough questions,” he said.
2. Meeting adversities head on
Ritchie encouraged his graduating players to hold onto the baseball program’s standards of grit, gratitude, attitude and effort as they go through life after GW.
“You men have learned to bring these words to life to live them and to make the printed words truly mean something by your actions,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie called on his players to apply lessons they have learned on the field to their lives and reminded them that they are prepared to face adversities “head on.”
“The road might be long, it might be difficult, so you will be prepared to spend a lot of time working towards an end goal,” Ritchie said. “You all have created a resilient strength to draw from, be disciplined and achieve.”
3. Bonds and brotherhood
Graduating senior Brandon Chapman reflected on his time on the field with his teammates as the student speaker.
Chapman – who said Ritchie told him to be a “rock” behind the plate as the team’s catcher – said his teammates have in turn been his rock and support system over the past four years.
“My biggest takeaway from our time here is that the GW baseball team is truly a family, and that many of the relationships that have been made on this team run deeper than just the bonds of teammates,” Chapman said.
Chapman recognized individual accomplishments of the graduating class and said each member of the team helped them achieve those goals. Chapman said his coaches have expected them to act and perform “as men,” and that expectation made them into the people they are today.
“The coaching staff pushed us in development and drove us to toward new heights as leaders on the field, in the community and in the classroom,” Chapman said.
4. A commitment to leadership
In his first commencement address as University president, LeBlanc challenged the graduating players to keep alive their commitment to leadership as they pursue “whatever makes them happy in life.”
LeBlanc encouraged the baseball players to keep learning with open eyes, minds and hearts and accept other’s differences with respect and empathy. Finally, he encouraged the graduates to be open to change.
“I charge you to embrace that change in opinion during your lifetime while never forgetting where you came from, how you got here and those who supported you along the way,” he said.
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