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The Georgetown Hoyas are the athletics teams that officially represent Georgetown Universitymarker in college sports. The school is located in the Georgetown neighborhoodmarker of Washington, D.C.marker and was founded in 1789. Part of the NCAA's Division I, the Hoyas field 27 varsity level sports teams, most of which participate in the Big East Conference, with the exception of the Division I-AA Patriot League in football. The rowing and sailing teams also participate in east coast conferences. The Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team is the school's most famous and most successful program, but Hoyas have achieved some degree of success in a wide range of sports.

The team name is derived from the mixed Greek and Latin chant, "Hoya Saxa," which gained popularity in the 1870s. The name Hoyas came into use in the 1920s. Most teams have their athletic facilities on the main campus of Georgetown University. The men's basketball team plays most of their home games at the Verizon Centermarker in downtown Washington, D.C.marker and the baseball team plays at Shirley Povich Field in Cabin John, Marylandmarker. Daniel R. Porterfield took over as the school's interim athletic director after Bernard Muir left Georgetown to become the athletic director at the University of Delawaremarker on May 11, 2009.


"What is a Hoya?"

The University admits that the precise origin of the term "Hoya" is unknown. The official story is that at some point before 1920, students well-versed in the classical languages combined the Greek hoia or hoya, meaning "what" or "such", and the Latin saxa, to form "What Rocks!" Depending on who tells the story, the "rocks" either refer to the baseball team, which was nicknamed the "Stonewalls" after the Civil War, to the stalwart defense of the football team, or to the stone wall that surrounded the campus.
In 1920, students began publishing the campus's first regular newspaper under the name The Hoya, after successfully petitioning the Dean of the College, to change the name of the young paper, which was originally to be known as The Hilltopper. By the fall of 1928, the newspaper had taken to referring to the sports teams (then called the Hilltoppers in reference to Georgetown's geography) as the Hoyas. This was influenced by a popular half time show, where the mascot, a dog nicknamed "Hoya," would entertain fans. Dean Nevils's former school, College of the Holy Crossmarker, also refers to the term "Hoya" in one of its fight songs, as does a third Jesuit school, Marquette Universitymarker.

Big East and other opponents, whose schools tend to have more concrete nicknames, have long used "What's a Hoya?" as a chant to mock Georgetown. Marquette Universitymarker, whose fight song is "Ring Out, Ahoya!" will often taunt the Georgetown basketball team with the phrase "Wring out a Hoya."

Harrison High School, located in Kennesaw, Georgiamarker, is the only other institution in the country licensed to share this name. However, Georgetown Preparatory Schoolmarker, which separated from the University in 1927, uses the name "Little Hoyas" for its sports teams and shares the University's blue and gray color scheme.


Georgetown's nickname is The Hoyas, but its mascot is "Jack the Bulldog." Among the earliest mascots was a Pitbull terrier named Stubby, whose name is largely unfamiliar today but was perhaps the most famous dog of his generation. Stubby was discovered by a soldier at the Yale Bowlmarker, and went on to fight in the trenches of World War I in France. He was promoted to Sergeant for his actions in combat and awarded a special medal by General John J. Pershing in a post-war ceremony. His owner then entered Georgetown Law Schoolmarker, and Stubby became part of the halftime show.

From then on, Georgetown had a live dog as its mascot. Rev. Vincent McDonough, SJ's dog, Jazz Bo, nicknamed Hoya is likely a cause of the teams adopting the name. In 1951, the school joined a growing movement among private schools, such as the University of Chicagomarker, and suspend the football program as un-academic. The dog as a symbol lived on, though, and sporadically students would bring pet bulldogs to games. In 1962, as the school revived the football team and adopted as its logo a drawing of a Bulldog sporting a blue and gray cap, students financed a new bulldog named Lil Nan's Royal Jacket, but went by Jack.

In 1977, the university began the tradition of dressing up a student in a blue and gray bulldog costume, replacing the live bulldog. In 1999, Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., with the help of the Hoya Blue fan club, revived the tradition of a live bulldog; when Pilarz left for the University of Scrantonmarker (taking Jack with him), Georgetown immediately secured a new bulldog puppy and found another Jesuit, Rev. Christopher Steck, S.J., to care for him.

Fight song

Georgetown's fight song is rare among U.S. university fight songs for mentioning other colleges by name. (Illinoismarker's "Oskee Wow-Wow," St. Olaf Collegemarker's "Um Yah Yah", and Texas A&Mmarker's "Aggie War Hymn" are other prominent examples.) Specifically, it mentions Yale Universitymarker, Harvard Universitymarker, Princeton Universitymarker, College of the Holy Crossmarker, the United States Naval Academymarker, and Cornell Universitymarker, who were all rivals of Georgetown in the early to mid-20th century, and mocks their fight songs. In recent years the Hoyas only play Cornell and Holy Cross regularly (in football), and many of these schools no longer use the fight songs that Georgetown's song mocks.


The alternate logo features the letter G for Georgetown.
Blue and gray are the official colors of Georgetown University and its athletic teams. The colors are an important reminder of the school's past. During the American Civil War, blue was commonly used in northern uniforms, while gray was used in southern uniforms. These colors were introduced by the rowing team in 1876. These student athletes deemed Blue and Gray "appropriate colors for the [Boat] Club and expressive of the feeling of unity between the Northern and Southern boys of the College." Girls from neighboring Georgetown Visitationmarker sewed the original uniforms together for the team and presented the Boat Club with a blue and gray banner reading "Ocior Euro" (Swifter than the Wind). The basketball and lacrosse teams use gray as their primary color in home jerseys, with blue in away jerseys. White is also frequently used as an accent to these colors, and is actually the main color in the football and baseball teams' away jerseys and the soccer team's home jerseys. Campus spirit groups often encourage students to "bleed Hoya blue," a slogan often used on shirts.

Men's basketball

Hoya Cheerleaders at an NCAA basketball game.
The Georgetown University men's Basketball team is perhaps the most well-known Hoya program. Georgetown's first intercollegiate men's basketball team was formed in 1907. John Thompson III, son of the accomplished Hoyas coach John Thompson, is the current head coach. The Hoyas historically have been well regarded not only for their team success, but also for their ability to generate players that after graduation succeed both on the court (such as Patrick Ewing) and off (such as Paul Tagliabue and Henry Hyde). The team has reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four 5 times, has won the Big East Tournament 7 times, and has won or shared the Big East regular season title 7 times.


Rowing at Georgetown has a distinguished history. Indeed, Georgetown's current University Colors have their origin in the founding of the university's Boat Club in 1876. The colors were enshrined on a blue and gray banner, emblazoned with the Latin "Ocior Euro," or "Swifter Than the Wind," which the girls of Georgetown Visitation Schoolmarker presented to the Boat Club. From the start Georgetown's rowing team raced against the likes of Yalemarker, Dartmouthmarker, Harvardmarker, Pennmarker, Cornellmarker and Wisconsinmarker. The team was however suspended from 1909 to 1920 due to lack of interest before being revived.

Today, under the guidance of Tony Johnson, now Director of Rowing and Varsity Heavyweight Coach, Georgetown still competes as a member of the top league in American rowing, the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges. With the addition of a men's lightweight team in 1963, a women's team in 1975, and a women's lightweight team in 1996, Georgetown's four crew teams have seen success in recent years, including trips to the Henley Royal Regatta for the men's heavyweight and lightweight teams and second-in-the-nation finishes for both men's and women's lightweight teams. Many Georgetown oarsmen and -women have gone on to represent the United States on national and Olympic teams, and a new boathouse is scheduled to be completed in the near future.

Georgetown Crew has seen a bit of a revival in recent years beginning in 2000 when such rowers as Noah Bergman and Spencer Scheffy, and coxswain Alex Taft entered the Men's Heavyweight Varsity Squad. The successes have lead to entry into the Eastern Sprints rowing league.

Men's rugby

The 1910 Georgetown varsity track team.

The Georgetown University Rugby Football Club is the intercollegiate men's rugby union team that represents Georgetown in the USA Rugby league. It was founded in the spring semester of 1967 by former members of the Washington D.C. Rugby Football Club including graduate student Michael Murphy. In 2005, Georgetown's first reached the Final Four of the USA Rugby National Tournament. The "Hoya Ruggers" again reached for the Final Four in 2009 in Palo Alto, Californiamarker.

Women's lacrosse

The women's lacrosse team has been particularly strong in recent years, winning 6 consecutive Big East titles. The Lady Hoyas reached the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championship final in both 2001 and 2002. They play their home games on Multi-Sport Facility ("Harbin Field"), which is surrounded on two sides by dormitories, to respectably large crowds. In 2005, their first season under new coach Ricky Fried, the team went 13–5 and made the NCAA Tournament for the 8th straight year.


Georgetown Hoyas football helmet.
In the 1940s, Georgetown had one of the better college football teams in America. In 1941, Georgetown played in the Orange Bowl, where they lost 14–7 to Mississippi Statemarker. Perhaps the football team's most accomplished athlete was Al Blozis, who would play for the NFL's New York Giants before being killed in action in World War II. Blozis's great athletic accomplishments, however, came in shotput and discus. He set the world indoor record for the shotput, throwing it 56 feet 4.5 inches in 1941. He was the national indoor and outdoor shotput champion in both 1942 and 1943.

As the college game became more expensive after World War II, however, Georgetown's program began to lose money rapidly. The Hoyas last successful season was 1949, when they lost in the Sun Bowl against Texas Westernmarker. "Big Jim" Ricca, an NFL defensive end and offensive lineman, graduated in 1949 and was the last Hoya to play in an NFL game.

After a 2–7 season in 1950, Georgetown attempted to salvage its program by softening its schedule, replacing major opponents such as Penn State, Miami, and Tulsa with Richmond, Bucknell, and Lehigh. The program was losing too much money, however, and on March 22, 1951 the University's president cancelled the football program.

In 1964, Georgetown allowed its students to start a football program as an exhibition-only club sport. Its first game drew 8,000 to see the Hoyas host another university with an unofficial program, New York Universitymarker (NYU). Varsity football resumed in 1970 at what later became known as the Division III level. Today, Georgetown plays at the Division I-Football Championship Series level (due to NCAA legislation forbidding Division I or II schools from playing football in lower divisions), competing in the Patriot League and perennially plays against Ivy League schools.

The Hoyas have also begun an cross-town rivalry with Howard Universitymarker (which also plays at the FCS level), for a championship known as the DC Cup. In 2007, the Washington Redskins made Alex Buzbee a reserve player, becoming the first Georgetown player on an NFL team since Ricca retired in 1956.

Other sports

Hoyas have excelled in a wide range of sports over the years:
  • Five players from the men's soccer team have played professionally for Major League Soccer: Phil Wellington (drafted in 1996), Brandon Leib (1997), and Eric Kvello (1999), Dan Gargan 2004 (Selected 43rd overall in the 2005 MLS Supplemental Draft), Jeff Curtin 2005 (1st round draft Pick #14 overall). Ricky Schramm, who played on the 2006 Hoyas, was drafted in the 3rd round by DC United.
  • The sailing team finished 2005 ranked #1 in the ICSA Sailing World College Rankings. As of November 2009, they are now #5. Andrew Campbell has led the sailing team to the three national championships and a second place finish in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Associaion (ICSA) championships in Hood Rivermarker, Oregonmarker. He was named male sailing athlete of the year in 2002 and 2005.
  • The University is also home to the Georgetown University Croquet Society, a nationally competitive croquet team.
  • The men and women's track and field teams practice off-campus at Duke Ellington Track in neighboring Burleith. At the end of the 2009 season, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association ranked the men's team #1 and the women's team #5 in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic region.


A prior incarnation of the Jack the Bulldog logo

Athletic directors

Since May 11, 2009, the Director of the Athletic Department position has been vacant, with Dr. Daniel Porterfield, Senior Vice President for Strategic Development, serving as Interim Director of Athletics. The former directors since the title's creation in 1914 are Charles R. Cox (1914–1920), Rev. Vincent S. McDonough (1920–1924), Louis Little (1924–1930), H. Gabriel Murphy (1930–1941), Rome F. Schwagel (1941–1942, 1947–1949), Joseph T. Gardner (1942–1943), Rev. John J. Kehoe (1943–1944), John L. Hagerty (1946–1947, 1949–1969), Robert H. Sigholtz (1969–1972), Francis X. Rienzo (1972–1999), Joseph C. Lang (1999–2004), Adam Brick (2004–2005), and Bernard Muir (2005–2009).

List of sports

Intercollegiate sports include (inaugural season and current coach in parentheses)


  1. Smithsonian Institution, " The Price of Freedom: Americans at War -- Stubby"
  2. Hoya Saxa Online, " Georgetown Traditions: Jack The Bulldog"
  3. "Men's Crew Places Second at Lightweight National Championship"
  4. "Georgetown Women's Lightweight Crew Completes Best Season in Program History"
  5. "Groom Wins Olympic Rowing Trials"
  6. "Build the Boathouse"
  7. "Glory Days: The Past, Present and Future of Hoyas Turned Professional Athletes The Hoya, January 23, 2004
  9. Hoya Saxa Magazine, January 2006 issue

External links

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