Bishop O’Connell celebrated the achievements of a group of alumni at the annual Alumni Awards Night held on the evening of Nov. 19. The event was held on campus, with a reception in the new Armor Family Atrium, followed by the awards presentations in the school’s auditorium. This year the school recognized three alumni with achievement awards, before inducting three alumni and a basketball team into the Bishop O’Connell Athletic Hall of Fame.
Alumni Achievement Awards
The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Cristine Gollayan ’93, a senior manager with Sony’s Global Cybersecurity Department, and board member of Women in Technology. Cristine earned a Bachelor's degree in International Business, Computer Information Systems, and Spanish from James Madison University, a Master's degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and attended the University of Salamanca and Oxford University for International Studies. She currently serves on the "STEM for Her" board and has been featured in Washington Life Magazine's Top Tech Innovators and Disruptors. Her motto is to "Inspire Girls. Empower Women,” and she continues to live by this model every day in nurturing the next generation of leaders.
The Young Alumni Award was presented to Paul J. Abraham ’02, founder and CEO of PJI Law, a Northern Virginia law firm with specialties in Wills, Trusts & Estates, as well as business law and civil litigation. The firm has been named as one of the fastest growing law firms in the United States by Law Firm 500, and has earned the 2022 Great Place to Work Certification based on 100% positive employee feedback. Paul is a graduate of Cornell University and of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. He has appeared on a number of radio and television shows, and his written work has been published in newspapers from coast to coast. He has been quoted in forums ranging from the nation's leading talk radio shows, to the pages of work appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Paul has been named as Rising Star by Super Lawyers (2016-2022), Top Attorney by Arlington Magazine (2019-2022), Top 10 Wills, Trusts, Estates and Probate Law by the National Advocates (2017-2022), and Top 40 Under 40 in Virginia by both the National Trial Lawyers (2014-2022) and the National Advocates (2017-2022), in addition to other accolades. Paul is a founder and President Emeritus of the Thomas More Guild for Catholic Legal Professionals, and speaks regularly on estate planning issues to Catholic and other public audiences.
The Knights' Service Award was presented to Robert “Boomer” Buckreis ’86. Boomer completed his undergraduate degree at Mount St. Mary's University, before returning to O'Connell in 1990 as Religion teacher. He taught more than one generation of Knights before transitioning to staff positions, first as Activities Director and more recently as Facilities Director. Over his 32 years at the school, Boomer also held official or unofficial titles including (but not limited to): SCA Executive Board Moderator, Campus Ministry Director, Retreat Leader, Alumni Liaison, and Construction Liaison, while he also served on several board committees. Outside any job description he had, Boomer was instrumental in getting the building ready for Christmas each year and making sure every event had all the logistics in place. He was often the first person there and the last to leave. Off campus, Boomer serves behind the scenes for a number of local projects, including the planning and production work he does for the long-running "Catholic Life" public access show. He retired last spring, but continues to stay connected to his alma mater in a variety of ways.
Athletic Hall of Fame
The following O'Connell student-athletes were inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame:
Greg Deegan '77 (Basketball) - While at O'Connell, Greg was the team leading scorer averaging 23.2 points a game. He was the 1977 Catholic League scoring champion and All State Catholic his senior year. In addition to being the 1977 O'Connell team MVP, he was named 1977 Washington Star and Washington Post All Independent Team. He received a Division 1 Athletic Scholarship to George Mason University and continued on to spend four years there playing basketball, graduating in 1982. Greg continues to stay involved in athletics, helping his wife coach Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track as well as coaching girls JV basketball at Westfield High School.
Marcus Ginyard ’05 (Basketball) - Marcus became the first player in O'Connell history to earn the honor of Virginia’s Mr. Basketball in 2005. He also helped lead the Knights to three Virginia Independent School state championships. Marcus enrolled at the University of North Carolina in the summer of 2005, where he would soon become a captain of the Men’s Basketball Team. In his career at Carolina, his teams won two ACC Championships, went to two Final Fours, and won the 2009 National Championship. Marcus was awarded ACC All-Tournament Team honors in 2007 and ACC All-Defense honors in 2008. After graduating in 2010 with a degree in Communications, Marcus has spent the majority of his 11-year professional career playing in various countries throughout Europe. Some countries he has called home during this time include France, Germany, Israel, Poland, Greece and Ukraine. He finished his career in August of 2021 after two seasons in Limoges, France. During his professional career, Marcus founded the Marcus Ginyard Basketball Camp (MGBC), whose motto “Having Fun Getting Better” led their efforts to create a quality athletic experience for the youth in local communities. The Chapel Hill Community Day and the Wilmington Outreach Weekend became two of his favorite events to host. Both were two-day clinics offered to kids at no charge. The Community Day and Outreach Weekend events brought kids together with local businesses, law enforcement, and service members who are committed to serving our community’s youth. After 10 years of summer camps and free clinics, Marcus has decided to focus his community efforts elsewhere. In December 2021, Marcus accepted a role as Vice President of Medalist Capital, a commercial real estate firm based in Charlotte, NC. He also became a licensed real estate broker in NC in February of 2022. Marcus gives back by serving on the Rams Club Board of Advisors, the UNC Institute for the Environment's Board of Visitors and various committees in the Triangle's chapter of the Urban Land Institute.
Dave Neal '05 (Basketball) - Before graduating from O'Connell in 2005, Dave had over 129 wins, was 1st Team All Met, 1st Team All State and the MVP of Alhambra. He received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland and led the Terps to the second round of the NCAA Tournament his senior year when he was named the program's MVP. In 2018, Dave married his wife Vanessa, and they have lived abroad with their two children, Keagan and Kinzley, as he worked with the U.S. Foreign Service. Dave has worked with PeacePlayers, which is a DC-based non-profit that utilizes basketball to bridge the divide in areas of conflict. "My work in Jerusalem was super special because I got to use basketball to bring together Israelis and Palestinians to show them no matter your race, color, or the language you speak, basketball is a sport that can bring anyone and everyone together to have fun!" The Neals are currently living in Bogota where he runs Talent Acquisition for Parci, a start-up in the Web3 and Real Estate space as well as working with Parci Labs creating a new global standard in Real Estate data.
2002 Varsity Men's Basketball Team - The 2002 Varsity Boys Basketball Team set a school record for wins (30-7) and were Virginia State Champions. They were finalists in the WCAC and Alhambra Catholic Invitational. The team finished its season ranked #1 in Northern Virginia by the Journal and #3 in the metropolitan area by the Washington Post.
“These alumni—whether on the distinguished alumni or the athletic hall of fame side of the aisle—spoke with great humility, deep appreciation, and joyful delight about their time as Bishop O’Connell Knights, many of them noting that their high school years, framed as they were within Christ’s centrality, were among the most important of their lives, integral and formative in who and what they have become,” remarked Head of School Bill Crittenberger.
Read more about the alumni awards and past recipients:
View photos from the 2022 Alumni Awards Night below: