Hall of Fame

Deborah Abeles

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

Deborah Abeles is no stranger to the Harvard record books. Maintaining the top spot in assists in a season (119 - 1997), total bases in a season (126 - 1998), and career triples (13), Abeles’ name still appears amongst the best of the best a total of 48 times. As a freshman in 1997, she was tasked with playing shortstop, a position she was not familiar with prior to Harvard, and finished her first season as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. She earned a spot on the second team All-Ivy squad, and led the league in RBI (37). In her second year, Abeles was the only Harvard player to start or play in all 56 games. She set the single-season and career records for home runs (10, 13) and RBI (53, 90), earned All-Ivy first team honors, all the while leading the team with a strong batting average (.423) to an undefeated Ivy League season, securing the title for the first time in Harvard history. Abeles continued to lead as a junior with a league-topping batting average (.411), and she set new Harvard records for hits in a season (71) while breaking her own record of career RBI (108). Abeles earned All-Ivy first team honors, and helped the squad finish second in the Ivy League. Most impressive, however, may be a single run that ended up being the only run scored in a game versus Princeton, which was the catalyst behind a 11-1 run and an Ivy Championship her senior year. Abeles ended her collegiate career again on the first team All-Ivy squad, and she was named the Ivy League Player of the Year. Abeles also excelled amongst her classmates as the Mary G. Paget Prize Award Winner, given annually to the senior female athlete who has contributed the most to women’s athletics.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

My parents woke me at 5:45am, anticipating the six o’clock chime signaling the earliest moment to engage the phone lines to Cambridge. There was no tedious busy signal, as one might anticipate with thousands of anxious high school seniors itching to discover whether their next adventure would include habitation in Beantown. The ringtone was unchallenged until a Harvard call center operator answered sweetly with, “Good morning. How may I help you?” With a skip in my heart, I introduced myself and stated my purpose. Am I one of the chosen few? A cool, spring day in April of my freshman year became a game changer. When I met my future teammates on my recruiting trip, there was no talk other than how we would first beat Princeton, and then win the Ivies. No Harvard softball team had ever done either before. Victory over the Tigers was expected, and would be a hallmark for our team and the program. My freshman year the stars were not aligned for achievement of both, but our win against Princeton, a 1-0 nail-biter in the latter of a doubleheader weekend, opened the door to new heights for our program. The next year, while braving cool Ithaca temperatures, we confirmed our destiny: the first Ivy League Championship for Harvard softball.

Certainly highlights such as these reign high in my recollections, but they do not overshadow the true experience of playing softball at Harvard. While trudging over the Charles River at six o’clock in the morning amid frigid February winds howling across the bridge, conversations with teammates became the blooming seeds of lifelong friendships with unique, remarkable and talented women. Team meals full of giddy hilarity permeate my memories of the fun of those four years. We came from different places, had different upbringings and brought our own unique experiences, but we had a common bond, dedication and purpose. In a world in which young women feel pressure to fit a specific mold, being part of such a talented and driven collection of women helps to keep one inspired.

I have always felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend school at Harvard. There are so many wonderfully talented people in the world who would seem to have earned such an opportunity as well. During my time in school, and thereafter, I have been conscious of maximizing this opportunity, wanting to make my parents proud, as well as those who saw potential in me and helped to guide, motivate and propel me forward to be the best version of myself. There are so many people to acknowledge. I would not have been the ballplayer that I was without a mother who selflessly drove me from one practice to another so that I might receive the best training possible. I would not have been the ballplayer that I was without a father who critically analyzed my every game and skill to highlight my strengths and constructively identify areas for improvement. I would not have been the ballplayer that I was without Coach Allard and a number of coaches who shared their knowledge and expertise about how to play the game the right way. Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club for this recognition. It is odd to accept an award for achievements in a sport that are influenced so heavily by the merits of an entire team and the contributions of so many. For me, this recognition is truly a celebration of the hard work, dedication, commitment and passion of my team and coaches and our collective efforts and accomplishments.