Working Hard, Playing Hard
Underneath the helmet and pads of junior wide receiver Jimmy McLaughlin (COL ’18) lies an exemplary student-athlete. The recipient of last season’s Mush Dobofsky Award for Outstanding Student-Athlete, awarded to the football player with the highest grade point average on the team, McLaughlin has found himself one of the busiest and most successful students on the Hilltop.
While the Georgetown community boasts talent and promise in spades across its diverse and impressive student body, the university should consider itself especially lucky to have the 6-foot-4 receiver. It almost did not.
“[Being from Fairfax, Va.], I never planned on staying close to home, but, coming out of high school, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Georgetown kind of popped up where I could both play football and go to a really stellar academic school,” McLaughlin said. “And it was just the best of both worlds. Like, I had to chase that.”
When recruiting a potential Division-I athlete, there is an inherent need to pull out all the stops on an athlete’s official visit. While Georgetown exudes an intrinsic allure, thanks to its location and consistent ranking among the top schools in the nation, it still needs to sell recruits on the details that can define a college experience. The Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society sold McLaughlin.
“I came here on my official visit in December and got to go to a basketball game and be around the football guys,” McLaughlin said. “You don’t really hear a lot about schools that are so academically rigorous — that are such good academic schools but are also at the same time really into athletics and really have an outgoing student body. I kind of fell in love with that really fast.”
However, the wide receiver’s first foray into college athletics was nothing short of a disappointment.
“I actually came in and had a back injury and missed pretty much the entire freshman season,” McLaughlin said. “I just wanted to take my mind off the fact that I had showed up and immediately gotten hurt in football … To kind of take my mind off my injury, I just joined three or four things immediately.”
And now, two years later, McLaughlin embodies the opportunity that exists for Hoyas. Beyond his academic success, the economics and history double major and business administration minor is a member of the highly selective Baker Scholars Program, a group of 19 students — 10 juniors and nine seniors — that exposes College students to the business world via an extensive alumni and professional network.
With only a few student-athletes accepted to the program over the past decade, McLaughlin is in elite company. He is currently the only student-athlete in the program.
“It’s a really tight-knit group of kids who are just really outgoing and cool but also really driven. I don’t think even in the Ivy League there are schools where the alumni are so hell-bent on helping current students from their school,” McLaughlin said. “It’s absolutely one of those things that’s kind of quintessentially Georgetown. It’s pretty special to be a part of.”
McLaughlin’s on-campus involvements don’t end with academia; his love of sports extends off the field and onto the page. As a sports columnist for The Hoya, McLaughlin’s column “Upon Further Review” runs every other Friday and discusses a variety of topics across professional sports, channeling the “water cooler talk” emblematic of a tried and true sports fan.
“Being a sports columnist was something I always dreamed about when I was growing up. I used to, all of elementary, middle school and high school, watch [Pardon The Interruption] every day at 5:30 [p.m.] when I got home from practice,” McLaughlin said. “And I thought it was just really awesome to dedicate a part of my experience at Georgetown and just getting to be a sports writer.”
Finding synergy between an athletic and extracurricular life is no easy task. The passion with which McLaughlin approaches his Hilltop experience naturally lends itself to questions of over-commitment, with the football team often singlehandedly accounting for 40 hours per week of commitment.
However, the junior wide receiver has not just found a balance in his successes but has also parlayed them into a pre-professional life. Through his job at the NFL’s division of public policy and government affairs the summer before his sophomore year, McLaughlin entered a star-studded yet politically charged field.
“It had everything you’d expect from an internship with the NFL in terms of the guys you got to run into. I think [I ran into] Bill Cowher, Mike Singleterry, Rodger Goodell … Once a week you’d run into some former NFL player or somebody big like that,” McLaughlin said. “You wouldn’t really think about sports and politics [going together], but the NFL spends more than any other American sport combined in its lobbying and political efforts.”
Two years of college down and an array of experiences in tow, McLaughlin is now finally holding steady with his extracurricular involvement.
However, for someone with success and commitments in nearly every facet of his life, the junior wide receiver remains the jokester he’s always been — a trait often hidden by what his accomplishments might otherwise suggest.
“Something that people wouldn’t expect, especially from most kids at Georgetown who are kind of hyper-involved and do a bunch of stuff, is that I’m pretty laid back and don’t take myself too seriously,” McLaughlin said. “[The freshmen and sophomores on the football team] figured I was some hyper-involved, crazy kid who wouldn’t hang out and goof around on the weekends, but I’m really just a huge freaking goofball. I don’t how else to describe it.”