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Mr. Churchwell’s lengthy career before coming to Eye Street

Mr. Churchwell completing some work on his computer. (Photo from Lonnie Anderson)

If you have ever walked around Gonzaga, you may have noticed a six-foot-six-inch friendly, disciplining man who has a large, sometimes intimidating presence.  However, overhearing this man talking and chatting with teachers and students would let you know of his charismatic personality and strong leadership skills.  

This man is Mr. Robert E. Churchwell III, more formally known as Mr. Churchwell; born in 1972, he has gone from star basketball player at Georgetown University to dean of students at Gonzaga College High School.   

Mr. Churchwell was born in South Bend, Ind. and later moved to Prince George’s County, Md..  Moreover, at six years old, Mr. Churchwell’s parents separated.  Mr. Chuchwell moved with his mother back to South Bend, Ind. while his dad stayed in Maryland, but Mr. Churchwell was still able to see his father on holidays. 

Despite obstacles, Mr. Churchwell still sees a lot of positives in his youth. 

“I had a great childhood.  Not much money but a lot of love,” Mr. Churchwell said.

Although Mr. Churchwell maybe did not get to spend as much time with his father, his father is who helped nourish his love for basketball.  

“My father’s love for basketball was my love for basketball, “ Mr. Chruchwell said.

During the summers of his youth, Mr. Churchwell would watch his dad play in the Urban Coalition League, which consisted of high-caliber amateur and professional players like Julius Erving and David Robinson.  Moreover, Mr. Churchwell’s dad played Division I Basketball at Niagara University with Hall of Famer Kalvin Murphy.  His father’s love for basketball helped Mr. Churchwell create his own.

Eventually, this burning love for basketball inspired Mr. Churchwell to play, where he excelled as an All-Met Forward at Gonzaga College High School and eventually played Division I College Basketball at Georgetown University.  

When asked about his biggest accomplishment playing basketball at Georgetown University, he said, “playing and starting all 4 years under legendary Coach John Thompson.”

Mr. Churchwell also noted he will forever cherish the relationships he built in college and being part of the 1000-point club and 600-rebound club.

That being said, all this hard work eventually landed Mr. Churchwell a spot on the CBA (present-day G-League) with the Chicago Rockers.  In his second year on the team, Mr. Churchwell impressed scouts and got called up to the Warriors where he played five career games in the NBA.  Mr. Churchwell would continue his professional basketball career playing in  Manchester, England, Kariya City, Japan, Bourg-en-Bresse, France and Oldenburg, Germany.

Reflecting back on his academic days at Gonzaga, Mr. Churchwell noted he really did not know what to study; in fact, Mr. Churchwell started off his high school years at public school until he transferred to Gonzaga during his sophomore year.  

Mr. Churchwell stated that this process was “a big shift,” but is thankful for it happening because he feels like it prepared him for all of life’s extremities.

In college, during his first two years at Georgetown, Mr. Churchwell had academically not used all his resources and had not tried his hardest; this, he says, he regrets.  That was until he reached his junior year when he found intriguing classes—his business and finance classes.  

“These two classes,” Mr. Churchwll notes, “kick-started the second half of my undergraduate college years.”

After that, Mr. Churchwell went on to found a class with others called Struggle and Transcendence, which still exists today, and eventually graduating.

Between his years at Georgetown and working at Gonzaga, Mr. Churchwell spent about eight years playing professional basketball both in America and overseas from 1994-2002.  After Mr. Churchwell’s basketball career, he served as an HPE teacher and community coach at Harrison High School in Georgia, and then from 2012-18 served as head basketball coach and HPE teacher at Benedictine College Preparatory in Richmond, Va.  Still, in Richmond, Mr. Churchwell served at Cristo Rey Richmond High School, and eventually, in summer of 2021 made the trip to D.C. where he now currently serves as Gonzaga’s dean of students.

A quite remarkable CV, but it is not anything but deserved from such a disciplined and hard-working man.  

Gonzaga assistant headmaster for student life and mathematics teacher, Mr. Jim Kilroy said, “Mr. Chuchwell has an incredible amount of patience in the job on campus, which allows for our students to grow when they have fallen short of our expectations for them.”

When asked about words of inspiration for Gonzaga students, he said, “Do your best to do your best.”

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