Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
It was my mother, Kay, who planted the seed in my head at a very young age that I should go to Harvard. Of course she was mortified when I proudly declared soon after to my school carpool that I was definitely going to Harvard. Around the same time, I began sailing competitively on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. I didn’t know it at the time, but sailing would become a lifelong passion, as it has been for my parents and grandparents. Growing up, sailing gave me the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. and around the world, racing and forging friendships with fellow competitors; and some would even later become my Harvard teammates. So by the time I was in high school I was certain of two things, I wanted to sail in college and I wanted to sail at Harvard.
Fast-forward to the Fall of 2000, I arrived on the Harvard campus. Naturally shy and introverted, I was excited but also nervous about being away from home for the first time and meeting so many new people. It was the sailing team that immediately gave me a sense of belonging and a home away from home. Going to practice that first day, I felt an immediate sense of relief seeing friends from junior sailing, now fellow teammates, awaiting my arrival. Clay Bischoff ’03, who is also being inducted, had arrived at Harvard the year prior, and Sean Doyle ’02 and Margaret Gill ’02, both of whom have been inducted into the Hall of Fame as well, were juniors. Within days, I had 30 new friends from the sailing team. I cannot imagine how those first few weeks of college might have gone otherwise without being surrounded by these old and new friends.
The beginning of college was a blur between navigating classes, sailing practice, and life in Weld. After that, life at Harvard on the sailing team fell into a predictable pattern of sorts. After morning classes, we practiced together most weekday afternoons and weekends were spent traveling to regattas up and down the East Coast. Our team had no shortage of natural talent, and our coaches Michael O’Connor and Bern Noack pushed us to be the best we could be, further increasing our success on and off the water. Without the two of them, my college sailing career would not have had the success that it did.
College sailing primarily involves sailing double-handed boats, with one person the skipper and the other the crew. I had the good fortune to sail with many talented crew over the years, including Laura Knoll ’03, Susan Bonney Doyle ’02, David Darst ’05, Laura Schubert ’05, Dan Litchfield ’03, Gabe Dorfman ’02, and Michelle Yu ’03. The relationship between college skipper and crew can be intense – spending close to 30 hours a week together in the confined space of a 13-foot boat is enough to test anyone’s limits. However, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything and will always fondly remember those times of bonding.
My life today would undoubtedly not be the same without the Harvard sailing team. I say this not just because of the many life lessons I learned from Bern and Mike during our long van rides, but because many of my closest friends today were my Harvard teammates and fellow competitors. All of these people have been instrumental in forming my personal and professional networks that have shaped the course of my life and will continue to do so for many years. Harvard sailing has impacted my life more profoundly than I could have ever imagined as I arrived at practice that first day almost 20 years ago.
These days, I continue to sail competitively and try to get on the water as much as possible, though I don’t have the luxury of spending nearly every day on the water sailing like I did in college. However, this also means I no longer have to spend days in late February and early March chipping away the ice to go sailing on a frigid Charles River. But those miserable days, along with some other warmer memories of Harvard sailing, are still the ones that I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life. Sailing at Harvard was such a transformative experience, and receiving this award is truly the highest honor.