Where There’s a Willey, There’s a Way for Georgetown Swimming, Water Polo

By Meredith McCloskey Hoya Staff Writer

Despite the large number of people on campus who are unaware of the fact that there is, indeed, a pool in Yates Field House, there are many who are somewhat familiar with the less publicized water sports here at Georgetown. For the past four years, John Willey has become a familiar name around the pool as well as around Georgetown’s campus.

Willey, a senior finance major in the McDonough School of Business, swam and played water polo all throughout his four years at Greenwich High School in Connecticut. A true love for sports as well as his natural talent led him to continue competing in sports at Georgetown.

Willey is one of the men’s swimming and diving team’s three captains, a very versatile swimmer who showed his talent early on in his career at Georgetown according to Swimming and Diving Head Coach Beth Bower.

“I’m glad to have had the opportunity to coach [Willey],” Bower said. “He always pushes himself and gives 110 percent.”

One of the highlights in Willey’s swimming career came last year at the Big East Championships where he placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.18) and 16th in the 500-yard freestyle (4:38.06), breaking Georgetown swimming records in both events. Willey also holds records as part of the 200, 400 and 800-yard freestyle relay teams.

“At last year’s Big East Championship, everyone was so pumped,” Willey said. “Seeing friends break records was so much fun.”

Willey has also enjoyed four years as one of the leaders of the men’s club water polo team and appreciates the social aspects of being on the water polo team. Willey has been rewarded for his ability to dominate the game by receiving several honors – he was voted Most Valuable Player and received second-team All-League honors the past two seasons. He also received All-Academic honors the last season further affirming his versatility and strength in athletics as well as academics.

“He excels at everything he does,” said Head Coach Sam Bakhshandehpour, who was still a member of the team when Willey was a freshman. “It’s going to be tough next year without him.”

Willey is currently having another successful season, leading the team in goals scored (39) and is confident that the team will make it all the way to the championship game. If the team fails to do so, he still recognizes water polo as a great experience.

“Even if it doesn’t end up how we want, the run to get it was just as exciting,” Willey said.

Despite his time-consuming commitments to athletics, Willey also managed to find time to pledge the Business Fraternity in the fall of his sophomore year. Although he realizes now that he might have bitten off a little more than he could chew, he appreciates the group of people he met through pledging as well as the great experiences that he got out of becoming a brother.

Through striving to be involved in so many activities, Willey has learned that it is necessary to make decisions and sacrifices in order to succeed.

“In college, when you have more freedom,” he said, “you can realize what your passions are.”

Looking back, Willey comments, “I do not regret a single second that I’ve spent at Georgetown. It was worth it because of the people I’ve met, the success I’ve had, and the discipline it has given me. Out of high school I didn’t think I had much to learn. The past four years have showed me that there is so much more to get out of life.”

Willey looks to end his Georgetown career in style by accomplishing everything he wants to do before he graduates in the spring. He definitely has the motivation to do so.


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