Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I would like to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for this honor. As the first women’s basketball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I accept it on behalf of all the extraordinary women who have been part of this remarkable program.
It is humbling to be named along side such impressive athletes, three who I had the chance to watch during my time in Cambridge. I initially met Sarah Leary over my freshman summer in high school at a basketball camp in the northeast, and I was thrilled to watch her tenacity as a lacrosse goalie. Liz Berkery’s lacrosse skills were unsurpassed, but my most distinct memories of her come from the freshman season she spent on the basketball team. She displayed a work ethic and determination that was contagious. And, of course, Ted Drury was a legend because he dated Liz; and he wasn’t a bad hockey player either.
It is with great fondness that I pause on this occasion to remember my Harvard basketball experience. What far surpasses all else are the teammates who showed me the way, pushed me, believed in me, supported me, and with whom I laughed, cried, won, and lost. For four years, we shared a commitment to each other and our common goal. Daily I remember the “transformation” from student alone to teammate while walking into the gym and locker room as everyone else arrived, left her day behind, and gave it her best for a few hours. No matter how the day had gone before practice, I always felt a sense of pride and community as we left together. To this day, when I “cross over the bridge,” I think I can still feel the wind blowing through my wet hair on the way to late dinner and school work ahead.
Many of my teammates bear recognition, but I would like to single out Deb Flandermeyer Donlon as one woman who was an extraordinary basketball player and friend. Deb and I arrived together with high hopes and full respect for the upperclassmen. We graduated four years later as co-captains and significant contributors to an Ivy League Championship team. Deb’s somewhat gentler leadership and relentless toughness on the court was a priceless example to me. I was lucky we traveled our Harvard basketball careers together.
There were great wins that sound even greater when we return to Lavietes and describe them to the current players on alumni weekend. There were losses, all painful, but made easier by enduring them together. One memory that is particularly vivid occurred during my sophomore year in a game against Brown. A win there was necessary to clench the Ivy League Title. My memory of the turning point in the game was when a leading senior, somewhat intimidating at the time, upon fouling out of the game early in the overtime looked the remaining five of us in the eyes and demanded that we must win this game for her. We all took that on and handily won after scoring 18 points in the next four minutes. When she recalls this game now she remembers my three point shot “from the books on the court” (about six feet behind the arc) as the moment that I was a deciding factor to help win the game. The perspective each of us holds in our memories years later is a testament to the belief and respect we had for one another.
Harvard Women’s Basketball has come a long way in the last twenty-five year in large part because of the leadership of Kathy Delaney-Smith. I thank her for her commitment to the program and her belief in me. She is a leader for women, and long before any Title IX legislation was implemented nationwide, she put the women’s basketball program on equal footing with the men’s. Certainly, the committed backing of the Harvard Athletic Department was of paramount importance as well. Also, I would like to thank assistant coaches Kevin Morrison, Cindy Stewart, Pam Nee Barker and Trisha Brown who shared their valuable wisdom, both on and off the court, and served as my outside of practice official “rebounders” (a position held by my father for the previous 13 years). I would additionally like to thank Dean Fred Jewett. From our meeting that first week as my freshman advisor, he guided me as I learned to find the balance of being a student-athlete at Harvard. Knowing he was there to listen to my “emergent” concerns of academic life, seeing him in the stands cheering on our team, and having him in my corner comforted me tremendously. His wisdom still impacts me today.
My reflections on this occasion also bring me to back to life before Harvard. My siblings were always good sports while listening to Mom and Dad bragging about little sister Erin. My brother Bill was my toughest competition from ages 3-10 as we held many world championships in our homemade “Maher Fieldhouse” down in the basement. And my parents, Marlene and Bill…to say that they lived their lives in support of their children would be an understatement. They saw over 50 games in my career, attended every one during my senior year, and did it all traveling across the country on Amtrak from Iowa. There unending love and support was easily evident to all. One such example of this took place at the start of my senior season. It was then when my mother handed her oncologist that pocket sized basketball schedule and instructed her that her chemotherapy sessions were to be arranged around these games. Unfortunately, my mother and father have both passed away, but tonight I would like to dedicate this honor to them. I can see their proud smiles, always there behind the scenes wishing me success and happiness.
Again, congratulations to my fellow inductees and thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club for this wonderful recognition.