AlumKnight inducted into Athletics Hall of Fame


“Take what the defense gives you.” This phrase is something I learned while attending Gannon University. I originally heard these words during my first week of water polo conditioning as a freshman.  Coach Sherman would repeat this phrase often.

At the time, I believed he meant that every defense strategy has an opportunity — or weakness ­­— waiting to be exploited.

I think he also meant that you cannot control another team’s defense, but you can control how you react to it and how you push forward.

It was not until after my first semester of college, and even after I graduated, that this phrase really became so much more than something I heard at practice.

During my first semester at Gannon I had a wide variety of experiences.  I moved away from home and was on my own.  I was attending college and playing water polo as I dreamed to do; I set a school record during my first game and joined an amazing group of young men.  I also lost my best friend in a car accident.  These events helped to mold me into the person I am today.

At the end of my junior year, Gannon and I decided to part ways.  I was not holding up my end of the agreement to be a student-athlete.  I had only focused on the athletic portion of our deal.

Deep down I already knew this, but it was an extremely hard realization to come to terms with.

Shortly after leaving Erie, I had the opportunity to move to Lake Charles, La., only weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf of Mexico.

This experience changed how I was thinking at the time, and gave me a new perspective on Sherman’s famous phrase: “take what the defense gives you.”

You see, until this point in my life, I was not looking for opportunities to grow and learn.  Instead, I was simply going through the motions.

While I was in Lake Charles, I witnessed some amazing things.  I watched an entire community come together to rebuild what had been ruined by the storm.

I met many people who were able to make the best of a very unfortunate situation. Many of these people had lost everything, yet they remained positive and upbeat.

It was during this period in my life that I came to realize the phrase that I heard time and time again had a deeper meaning beyond dealing with defensive strategies in the water.

I believe that during our lives we are going to face many difficult “defensive strategies.” And, even during some of those moments when you find the defense to be too overwhelming, there is always an opportunity for growth, success and a challenge to “take what the defense gives you.”


Charles Doane ’09

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