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Darryl Webster goes from Coolidge to GW to proud father of a Harvard man

Harvard guard Christian Webster, standing center, cheers on his team during a win over George Washington at the Smith Center. His father, Darryl Webster, played for the Colonials in the '80s, but rooted on the Crimson from the first row behind the bench.
Harvard guard Christian Webster, standing center, cheers on his team during a win over George Washington at the Smith Center. His father, Darryl Webster, played for the Colonials in the '80s, but rooted on the Crimson from the first row behind the bench. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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In a basketball sense, the next four years didn't work out quite the way either Webster or Gimelstob had hoped. Although Webster started 23 games as a freshman, he never averaged more than 10 points a game during his career. Gimelstob, in spite of some impressive wins early, was fired after four years. Saturday was the first time Gimelstob had been at Smith Center since his firing; it was the first time back for Webster since graduation.

Even though he never became the star he had hoped to be in basketball, Webster graduated with a degree in sociology - and later got a Masters in clinical sociology at Catholic - and now works in the D.C. public schools counseling kids. "I tell the kids I work with not to make the same mistakes I made when I was young," Webster said. "I told Christian the same things when he was young. Fortunately, he listened."

It was Christian's Jelleff League coach, Sam Potolicchio, who first recommended Landon to the Websters. Christian was a seventh-grader at Alice Deal Middle School and his father was hoping he would end up at either Gonzaga or Maret. Neither displayed much interest. Landon, which didn't have nearly the basketball program at the time as some other private schools, was interested.

"It was a huge change for me," Christian said. "I went from a public school in the inner city to a jacket-and-tie school on 75 acres of land that looked like a college campus. It was a big adjustment. There were mornings I woke up to go to the bus when I'd say, 'Mom, I don't want to go today.' "

But, like his father at GW, the light went on for Christian. He ended up leading Landon to the IAC title as a senior and was recruited by several mid-majors and just about everyone in the Ivy League and the Patriot League. But Harvard had the inside track from the outset.

"For me, it was Coach [Tommy] Amaker and the fact that they were the first school that really came after me," Christian said. He smiled. "For my dad though, I think it was the fact that it was Harvard."

Darryl Webster didn't disagree. "When I sit and look at him in a Harvard uniform and I think about my grandfather, and then that I was the first person in my family to go to college and graduate from college, it's just unfathomable," he said. "I always used a metaphor with Christian: stay on the train. A lot of the kids he grew up with got off the train, got into drugs and trouble. I saw it, too, when I was young. When he went to Harvard, academically, the train had reached its destination. Now we'll see where he goes next."

Christian Webster's next step is an Ivy League title, something the Crimson men have never won.

"There are no men's banners in our gym, only women's banners," he said. "Every day we go in there to practice and look up at those banners, the fact that we have none motivates us. I want to be part of making history at Harvard - put a men's banner up in our gym."

For more from the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com.


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