Sometime after returning to campus following Saturday’s euphoric defeat of Duke, I found myself captivatingly checking the away message of each Georgetown student on my AIM Buddy List. Almost without fail, every one of them alluded to the triumph at CI Center.

“87-84”

“WE BEAT DUKE!”

“HOYA F—– SAXA!”

I’m pretty sure these messages were no attempt at poetry or art, but somehow this random collection of unified sentiments spoke to me more profoundly than any painting or collection of verses ever has before. Twenty, then 30, 40-plus students, all saying the same thing, with the number growing as more and more busloads of Hoyas continued to return to the Hilltop. When all was said and done, though, and the number leveled off around 50, I continued to reread the one particular message which seemed to me to resonate more deeply than the rest:

“HOYAS BEAT #1 DUKE! . never been prouder to be a hoya”

Never prouder to be a Hoya? What about when you received your acceptance letter? When you arrived for New Student Orientation and saw for the first time the faces that would accompany you on this four-year journey? When you sat through your first class with a truly brilliant professor? When you felt for the first time that you, too, would be able to succeed in a community which already counts so many success stories as its own?

Forget for a moment how the team did it. Don’t focus on John Thompson III’s brilliant game plan, or the incredible double-digit scoring efforts of five different players. Leave out our seniors’ eminent sense of “the moment” and the Jeff Green-Jonathan Wallace combination of unending hustle.

These things are important, and we certainly wouldn’t have won without them, but they live only in the small sports world of Xs and Os in which all that matters is the bottom line. They exist as facts, and even though in this case they are positive, tangible facts which we would love to hold on to, focusing only on these truths misses the greater story of what happened on Saturday.

Instead, for a few moments, concentrate on what the team did. Realize that their spectacular combined athletic effort united our school and bound it together in ways we have not seen in the longest time.

Ignore the school of thought which preaches that sports should not have this type of cathartic effect on people, especially students in an academic university like ours, with such an outward focus on solving so many of the world’s problems. The fact is that sports do matter a great deal, especially when they are able to affect you so personally. I’ve been in a few great classes here at Georgetown, but I’ve never hugged a total stranger for making a brilliant point in an International Relations discussion. Academics can make you feel intelligent (albeit burdened with a giant workload), but too often the focus on individual success does a poor job of making you feel like a part of a true community that stands for something greater than yourself. Your school life is between you, your family and your professors; there are no voice mail messages from friends at other schools waiting to tell you that you wrote a killer paper last night.

I spent some time before the game being concerned about what would happen if we lost to Duke. I feared a gigantic letdown and a precipitous decline in school spirit. Collectively, the campus had more riding on this one game than on any shared event during my time at Georgetown. But to their credit, the Hoyas never allowed “what-if” private worries to become a reality, ultimately letting Duke know that we were more than just a blip on their schedule. Infused with the crowd’s excitement, the team seized control from the opening tip and refused to rest until the victory was our true reality.

And as opposed to what some of the “Duke Sucks” signs you’ve seen around campus may imply, the truth is actually something of the contrary. The Blue Devils are an excellent team, which makes our victory taste that much sweeter.

I owe my parents in New York quite a bit for having the presence of mind to tape the game, so years from now I’ll be able to watch again the exuberance and Georgetown pride that I know I’ll always remember. Even more than that, however, I’m glad that I copied down my friends’ away message thoughts following the game. It makes for a modern-day living history which serves as a testament to the good that can come out of a completely unified campus. The 40 minutes of actual gameplay were incredible in their own right, but so were the hours and hours of good feelings that followed well into Sunday morning. The shared euphoria created a sense of Georgetown as our second home which had never before been quite so strong.

Still never been prouder to be a Hoya than after beating Duke on Saturday?

Me, too.

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