August 5, 2016 — Over the next two weeks, athletes from around the world will compete in the 31st Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many of them have ties to Jesuit colleges, universities and high schools: from alumni to coaches, Jesuit-educated athletes will be found on the court, in the pool and on the field.
One of the breakout stars of the 2012 Olympics returns to compete in 2016: Missy Franklin, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, will represent Team USA in women's swimming. Franklin will be joined by fellow Regis grad Clark Smith, who will compete in men's swimming.
Several former student-athletes will compete or coach for their native countries in basketball. For the past two years, Domantas Sabonis starred as a forward for Gonzaga University’s men’s basketball team. Before he begins his professional career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Sabonis will follow in the footsteps of his father, legendary basketball player Arvydas Sabonis, and play for the Lithuanian men’s basketball team. Saint Joseph’s University alumnus John Bryant (’05) will serve as an assistant coach with the Nigerian men’s basketball team. While at Saint Joe’s, Bryant was part of the 2004 NCAA Elite 8 men's basketball team. For Team USA, former Marquette University men’s basketball standout Jimmy Butler — now playing for the Chicago Bulls — will play on the U.S. men’s basketball team.
Creighton University alumnus Gregory Echenique (‘13) will become only the second Creighton basketball player to compete in the Olympics. He will play for the Venezuelan men’s basketball team, a team that is also making only its second appearance in a Summer Olympics. Saint Louis University alumnus Kevin Lisch (’09) will be only the third Saint Louis basketball player to compete in the Olympics, when he plays for the Australian men’s basketball team.
This year, Boston College has three alumni competing in the Olympics: Joe Maloy (‘08, ‘10) in the triathlon; Briana Provancha (‘12) in sailing; and Annie Haeger (‘12) in sailing. Both Provancha and Haeger will compete in the same event: women’s 470 class sailing.
Joe Maloy (Boston College '08, '10) will compete for Team USA in the triathlon. (Photo: joetriathlon.com)
Georgetown University alumna Emily Infeld (’12) will compete on the U.S. women’s track and field team. She was recently profiled in The Washington Post for her perseverance after battling injuries throughout her career.
From Loyola Marymount University, head women’s volleyball coach Tom Black will serve as assistant coach for the U.S. women’s volleyball team; and former assistant coach Katelyn Snyder will compete in women’s rowing. LMU alumnus Reid Priddy (’00) will compete on the U.S. men’s volleyball team along with Saint Louis University High School alum Murphy Troy ('07) and former Loyola University Chicago men’s volleyball player, Thomas Jaeschke.
St. John’s Jesuit High School alumnus Josh Konieczny (‘09) will row for Team USA in the men’s lightweight double sculls, with his partner, Andrew Campbell Jr. After graduating from St. John’s, Konieczny continued to row at Dartmouth, where he graduated in 2013. Konieczny and Campbell finished eighth at the 2015 World Rowing Championships and won the U.S. trials to qualify for this year’s Summer Olympics.
Santa Clara University alumna Julie Johnston (‘14) will continue the university’s proud tradition of women’s soccer by playing for the U.S. women’s soccer team. Santa Clara’s ties to the Olympics run deep: alumna Brandi Chastain (‘91) played for the U.S. women’s soccer team in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. Chastain currently serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Santa Clara women’s soccer team, which is led by her husband, Jerry Smith.
On the media side, College of the Holy Cross alumna Annie O’Shea (’12; former captain of the women’s swimming and diving team) will be blogging from Rio for Holy Cross on behalf of a sports marketing agency in Geneva, Switzerland. Two Santa Clara alumni will serve as NBC commentators throughout the games: Danielle Slaton ‘02 and Aly Wagner ’02.
There is more to the Olympics than games: volunteers will be helping in numerous ways over the next few weeks, including Seattle University professor Sharon Lobel, Ph.D., who will serve as an “Olympic Family Assistant” in Rio. Immediately after hosting the Olympics, Rio will host the 2016 Paralympic Games from September 7-18. Incoming Fairfield University freshman Colleen Young will compete for the U.S. swim team and will be joined by two Loyola University Maryland swimmers: McKenzie Coan and Alyssa Gialamas. Fairfield shares another Olympic connection through swimming and diving head coach Janelle Atkinson-Wignall, who will be an analyst for ESPN.
The 2016 Olympics marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta where John Carroll University alumna Dominique Moceanu (‘09) was a member of the gold-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team known as “The Magnificent Seven.” That same year, University of San Francisco’s head women’s basketball coach, Jennifer Azzi, won a gold medal as part of the U.S. women’s basketball team. For her accomplishments, Azzi was recently inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Finally, another milestone Olympic anniversary takes place this year: it has been 60 years since the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, when Fordham University alumnus Tom Courtney (’55) set an Olympic record during the 800-meter men’s race.
[Source: AJCU]Note: We hope we did not miss anyone, but if we did, please contact AJCU’s director of communications, Deanna Howes: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Jesuit mission of athletic programs, visit ajcunet.edu/march-2016-connections