UT Student Takes to the Court at Oxford

Published: Jan 5, 2009

It’s not unusual for top U.S. students to study at Oxford. However, it’s a little more unusual for them to walk on to Oxford’s varsity basketball team.

Charlie Connally, a senior from Riverview, FL, who studied at Oxford last semester as part of UT’s Honors at Oxford program, produced papers on subjects like natural law and the works of John Locke. And he did it at the same time as practicing for the basketball team for 10 hours per week with additional scheduled trips throughout England to compete against other schools.

“When I got to Oxford I really didn’t know what to do in my time apart from studying,” Connally, a double major in government and world affairs and criminology, said. “I played basketball all through high school, so I figured that would be a good way to kind of let loose at the end of the week.”

At Oxford, sports teams are referred to as “clubs,” a turn of phrase that threw off Connally’s idea of what to expect on the first day he showed up to be a part of the team.

“When I got there, there were 80 students looking to play and I found out it was the team tryouts,” Connally said. “Some stuff you never lose, so I kind of winged it.”

Connally played as a center and guard in a total of five varsity basketball games and two junior varsity games while at Oxford. The experience, he said, was similar to playing on an NCAA Div. II or III team in the United States.

Even among his teammates, the academic-centered way of life persisted as off-the-court conversations usually consisted of discussions about what players were currently reading and which British authors gave the best representation of England in their works. Connally was especially intrigued following a game in which his teammates engaged in a textbook discussion of human physiology in relation one player’s ankle sprain.

Apart from his studies and travels with the basketball team, Connally also took time to visit some of Great Britain’s most notable locations, including Stonehenge and Scotland’s Mount Ben Nevis.

“I found the whole Oxford environment extremely conducive to being a productive student,” Connally said. “It’s a completely different environment both culturally and academically.”

All of it was a complement academically to Connally’s internship the previous summer, which he found through The Washington Center – a nonprofit organization that places students in internships in all areas of the nation’s capital.

It was there that Connally worked in the Office of General Counsel for the D.C. Metro Police – handling evidence for criminal trials as well as subpoenas and depositions.

In between his overseas studies, he took the LSAT exam and got accepted to the law schools at Georgetown and Duke universities and is awaiting a decision from several other law schools.

UT Honors students Christine Guzman, Shane Twaddell and Sonja Radmilovic were recently selected to participate in the Honors at Oxford program for the spring semester.