Graduation On The Horizon For Many Gonzaga Student-Athletes
SPOKANE, Wash. – The exhilarating moments have been a plenty for the graduating student-athletes of Gonzaga University; the school’s first No. 1 ranking in men’s basketball, the Elite Eight run by women’s basketball, the first West Coast Conference regular-season title in baseball since 2009, the inaugural NCAA Championship berth in women’s golf, highest finish at the NCAA Regionals for both men’s and women’s cross country, and three-straight IRA National Championship appearances for the men’s rowing squad – to name a few.
For these student-athletes, the biggest moment of all comes this weekend in the form of graduation.
Sixty Bulldogs will walk across the stage at Spokane Arena – and one at the McCarthey Athletic Center - receive their diplomas, turn their tassels to the left and be congratulated on one of life’s top accomplishments.
Six of the student-athletes that will be found in the sea of blue this weekend are members of the men’s basketball team. Kelly Olynyk, who declared for the NBA Draft earlier this month and closed out his career as both an All-American and Academic All-American, highlights the group, returning to Spokane to receive his Bachelor of Business Administration diploma Sunday.
Two of the six men’s basketball players will earn their undergraduate degree but return in 2013-14 for their final year of eligibility and begin graduate school. Sam Dower and David Stockton, who both redshirted their first year on campus, will each attend graduation, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Business Administration degree, respectively.
Each of the men’s basketball players will get to bask in the celebration that is graduation weekend, but for the student-athletes on baseball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s rowing and men’s and women’s track more than just graduation will be on their minds.
All six of the aforementioned spring sports are still in the thick of their seasons, heading into either their West Coast Conference Championships or partaking in the National Championships for their respective sports.
For women’s golf, its two seniors will miss being handed their diplomas from Gonzaga President Dr. Thayne McCulloh for a program-altering moment. Both Genna Dodge and Victoria Fallgren swap the bittersweet moment of college coming to an end for the program’s inaugural NCAA Regional Championship appearance. Dodge and Fallgren, along with their three other teammates, are currently in Oklahoma looking to become one of the top eight teams in the Central Regional to move on to the NCAA Championship.
The seniors of the Zag baseball program, who captured the West Coast Conference regular-season title and the top seed in the WCC Tournament, gets the best of both worlds Sunday. They get to attend graduation and then play Appalachian State University in the final game of their 3-game series.
With first pitch so late in the afternoon, Alex Bonczyk, Clayton Eslick, Travis Forbes, Steven Halcomb, Billy Moon, Tyler Olson and Kenny Smith will each be able to attend commencement which begins at 9 a.m. The student-athletes will then swap their caps and gowns for their Zag uniforms and their family and friends will move from one grandstand to the next to cheer Gonzaga to victory at 3 p.m.
All 16 sports will be represented at commencement, with the men’s rowing team having the most student-athletes graduate with 10.
Notes: The six men’s basketball players graduating is the most since the 2005-06 season when five players graduated: J.P Batista, Nathan Doudney, Colin Floyd, Erroll Knight and Sean Mallon…one Bulldog is receiving a graduate degree; Mike Hart (Men’s Basketball, MBA)…six student-athletes are receiving their undergraduate degrees and will return in 2013-14 for their final year of eligibility: Sam Dower (Men’s Basketball), Haiden Palmer (Women’s Basketball), David Stockton (Men’s Basketball), Patrick Richie (Men’s Cross Country), Rick Ruddell (Men’s Rowing), Kenny Smith (Baseball).
2013 Gonzaga Student-Athlete Graduates
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