An interview with Tony Mazurkiewicz, Chaplain for Athletics
For many seniors, the spring semester brings a sense of accomplishment and joy as they look back on their time at Georgetown. It also brings uncertainty, as they wonder about their lives after graduation.
When several student-athletes expressed their anxiety about their futures and questioned what they were going to do once their Georgetown athletic career ended, Tony Mazurkiewicz, the chaplain for athletics designed a creative spiritual space to assist them in their discernment process.
Mazurkiewicz said the “Life Beyond Georgetown Athletics” workshop provided student-athletes with an opportunity to reflect on their journey on the Hilltop. “It especially helped them to see their athletic and academic experiences as a launching pad for future choices that will hopefully lead to their joy, continued flourishing and the betterment of our world,” he added. Students appreciated being able to reflect on their Georgetown experience and begin to imagine how they might meet their goals after graduation. One student-athlete shared, “The workshop allowed me to thoroughly reflect on my time and experiences at Georgetown and think about how I want my future to go.”
In addition to Life Beyond Georgetown Athletics, Mazurkiewicz created the Busy Hoya Retreat program and something else he calls, ‘Ignatian Zonefulness’ – a blending of the Ignatian examen and an expression frequently used by athletes to describe their state of focused concentration.
The Busy Hoya Retreat offers a track for student-athletes and one for coaches and staff. Busy Hoya asks participants to commit to five days of spiritual practice (prayer, reflection, meditation, journaling, etc.) for 30 minutes, along with a daily opportunity to share their experience with a chaplain. Student-athletes are invited to consider a grace they would like to ask or pray for during the week and be open to the unfolding of that desire. Some of the student-athletes shared that making this daily commitment made a big difference in their performance and appreciated having the time to grow and explore their relationship with God throughout the week. Coaches and staff were equally appreciative of the opportunity to find a moment of stillness during their workday and to build on their existing spiritual practices.
As teams and athletes were heading into conference championships or their off-seasons, Mazurkiewicz shared practice of ‘Ignatian Zonefulnness with them. This spiritual practice combines elements of the Ignatian examen with being “in the zone,” using mindfulness and visualization techniques. After a recent session, the captain of the men’s swimming and diving team, Josiah Lauver (C’23) said, “Our meditation sessions have been immensely helpful for the mental focus of the team and have significantly impacted our ability to maintain a positive outlook on our past, present and future experiences in and out of the water.” Claire Trevithick (H‘23) , a senior on the women’s swimming and diving team, said the practice, “helped me find a much-needed moment of stillness and reflection at a time when I feel like I am constantly busy. I have enjoyed reflecting on my best self and visualizing ways to continue to be my best self in the future. This experience has helped remind me that I am enough as I am and that God loves me unconditionally, not because of my academic or athletic performance.”