Following the Game Plan: John Goedeke ’79

During John Goedeke’s first year on the UMBC basketball team, the players lost all but five games. The year was 1975, and all of the players were freshmen and sophomores.

“UMBC wasn’t even ten years old, but it was a challenge and an opportunity, and I welcomed that,” said Goedeke ’79, economics, who had turned down recruiters from big name basketball schools like Ohio State and the University of Maryland, College Park, for a spot on a fledgling team with coaches he really admired.

Over his college years, however, the team made an amazing turn. By the time his senior year rolled around, the Retrievers had advanced to the final eight in NCAA Division II, the university’s first NCAA appearance.

In the wake of UMBC’s recent success in the basketball world, Goedeke is especially proud of his alma mater.

“It’s so great to hear UMBC and NCAA tournament in the same sentence,” said Goedeke, senior vice president of commercial services at Provident Bank. “Randy Monroe has done a tremendous job, and the players that they have… you have to give them all the credit. I couldn’t say anything to diminish their accomplishments. We’re all so proud.”

Then and Now

As a member of UMBC’s first championship basketball team, Goedeke saw how athletic success built school spirit. “The biggest thing was in the stands. By our senior year, people were really coming out,” he said. “Having that success was very gratifying. It was a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”

“We also didn’t have the alumni support like UMBC does now,” he said, reflecting on the crowd that packed the RAC Arena to watch UMBC beat Hartford for the America East title this past March and the more than 500 fans who traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to cheer the team on at the NCAA’s.

After graduation, the academic All-American was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Although he didn’t make the final cut, he got the chance of a lifetime – to play professional basketball for Team Talbot, a Division I team in England.

“It was such a great experience,” he said. After a year in the UK, Goedeke headed back to Charm City with his wife, Jan, to start his business career at Provident, where he has spent 28 years. After a few years in the workforce, he earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins.

As a local UMBC alumnus, Goedeke likes to stay involved in campus activities. He continues to support Retriever athletics and is a member of the Alumni Campaign Cabinet.

“I’m always happy to come back,” said Goedeke, whose son, Kevin, plays defense for the UMBC men’s lacrosse team.

As the father of a student athlete, he can see the positive impact sports can have over a lifetime.

“Sports teaches you very important life lessons,” he said. “You learn to work with others, and you learn to work through difficult times. You learn how to deal with adversity, you learn how to deal with success, and you learn how to deal with a lot of different people.”

Where does Goedeke plan to be next fall when the UMBC basketball season starts up again? You should be able to find him in the RAC, cheering on his Retrievers.

– Melissa Gilden ’10
Originally posted April 2008

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