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 and universities: from alumni to coaches, Jesuit-educated athletes will be found on the court, in the pool, and on the field.
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.
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. Fellow Hoya Charlie Buckingham ('11) will compete as a member of the U.S. men's sailing team. For basketball, former Marquette University men’s basketball standout Jimmy Butler (now playing for the Chicago Bulls) will play on the U.S. men’s team.
From Loyola Marymount University, alumnus Reid Priddy (’00) will compete on the U.S. men’s volleyball team; 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. Priddy will be joined by former Loyola University Chicago men’s volleyball player, Thomas Jaeschke, and St. Louis University High School alumnus Murphy Troy ('07).
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. The University of San Francisco has a current graduate student, Mariya Koroleva, competing in synchronized swimming, and an alumna, Maor Tiyouri ('14), competing in the women's marathon for Israel. Incoming Fairfield University freshman Ore Cherebin will compete for Team Grenada in women's swimming.
Of note, 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 more Jesuit high school graduates will also be competing in the Olympics: Devon Allen, a 2013 graduate of Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, will compete on the U.S. men's track and field team and David Torrence, a 2003 graduate of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, will compete on the Peru men's track and field team.
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.
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 squad that is also making only its second appearance in a Summer Olympics. Echenique will be joined by two more Jesuit-educated teammates: former Marquette player David Cubillan and former University of San Francisco player John Cox ('05). 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. (Saint Louis has another Olympic connection this year, having hosted the U.S. men's gymnastics trials at the Chaifetz Arena on campus.)
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.
On the media side, Loyola Marymount has several Olympic experts who are available for commentary throughout the Games. 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) while the University of San Francisco's director of creative video, Katie Morgan, will work for her eighth Olympics as an associate producer for NBC.
Marquette’s experts include head men’s basketball coach, Steve Wojciechowski, a former scout for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. And in a further connection to the USA Basketball Men’s National Team, Xavier University’s head men’s basketball coach Chris Mack was named a court coach for the Men’s U18 National Team Training Camp earlier this summer.
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. And 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, and one former Georgetown University swimmer, Michelle Konkoly ('14). Fairfield shares another Olympic connection through swimming and diving head coach Janelle Atkinson-Wignall, who will be an analyst for ESPN.