Georgetown likes to make a big deal about its “Hoya Family” – particularly when it comes to the men’s basketball team. John Thompson still holds the title of head coach emeritus and remains a visible figure in the Georgetown program. Head Coach Craig Esherick has been part of the program since he joined the team as a freshman in 1974. Former superstar players like Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning can still be found working out in McDonough Gymnasium during the off-season. Since Georgetown’s rise to prominence under Thompson, Georgetown basketball has indeed become a family affair.

Yet since the retirement of Thompson, Hoya hoops has certainly entered a new era, one closely related to its past yet seemingly destined to strike its own path to greatness. However, one of the people who has remained constant throughout it all is one of the people you may not even take notice of in the course of a game.

Since the very beginnings of the Thompson era, William McFadden, S.J., has been the public address announcer for Georgetown home games, a constant in a game that by its very nature runs in four-year cycles of renewal.

McFadden became involved with the basketball program as part of Thompson’s drive to ensure that the basketball team would feel like regular members of the university community. Consequently, McFadden said, Thompson asked faculty members, particularly Jesuits, to help the program out.

McFadden said he immediately enjoyed being involved. “It was wonderful … I got invited to sit on a hard metal folding chair under the basket at the stage end of McDonough,” he said. One year later, he was selected to become the public address announcer.

In addition to his MCI Center and McDonough duties, McFadden is also a professor in the theology department.

But the real story here is not just the story of McFadden, it is the stories that he has accumulated over his years involved with the program – stories that few other people have access to.

Like the story of the way Thompson made sure that his players were able to get as much as possible out of their basketball talents.

“He would tell them they ought to use their skills to get an education,” McFadden said. “It had so many ramifications … when they’d travel, he would always find someplace to take them.” For example, McFadden said that when the team was in Birmingham, Ala., for the NCAA Tournament, Thompson took the team to a civil rights museum where the bus used by the 1960s Freedom Riders was on display. A woman in the museum told Thompson Georgetown was the first team of all the teams that had ever played in the city that visited the museum. McFadden said that Thompson encouraged his players “to open their minds.”

Like the story of McFadden’s favorite memories over the span of his career as an announcer. He was there for the Hoyas’ first national championship game against North Carolina in 1982, a game the Hoyas lost.

“That first team was a great one … Sleepy Floyd, Patrick [Ewing] was a freshman,” he said. “I said to a friend of mine at halftime that I didn’t know who was going to win, but that it was going to come down to the last shot.” He was there in 1984 when the Hoyas won it all in Seattle. He was there for the Final Four game against Kentucky, a game the Hoyas were supposed to lose, a game they were losing badly after the first half. Georgetown held Kentucky scoreless until about 10 minutes into the second half. “It was the most awesome experience to see Kentucky totally dissolve.”

Like the story of seeing Esherick progress through his entire Georgetown career. He recalled a game in McDonough against George Washington that Georgetown was losing by two in the closing seconds. Esherick, one of Thompson’s recruits from the local aryland area, sank a shot from behind half court to tie the game and send it into overtime.

“As I was sitting at half court, all of the sudden I saw Thompson’s belt buckle floating by,” McFadden said. Thompson mistakenly thought the Hoyas had won, but according to cFadden the game really was over. “GW had no chance after that.”

These are the kinds of stories that define a program – stories that enrich the lore of Georgetown and maintain the mystique of one of the greatest programs in college sports. cFadden may not ever hit a game-winning jump shot or draw a prized recruit to Georgetown, but he is an invaluable member of Georgetown’s proudest tradition – he provides a link between its past and its future, a link between our past and our future.

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