Hall of Fame

Geoffrey M Stiles
Track & Field

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

Throughout Geoffrey’s outstanding pole vaulting career, his progress could be measured in both feet and in the ever-increasing scope of his victories. As a freshman, the future All-American was unable to clear better than 14 feet. In 1979, he won the NCAA Indoor Pole Vault Championship with a vault of 17’-3”, which was the Harvard record for 34 years and continues to be the second highest mark in school history.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

A few months ago, a seventy-five year old woman came into my surgical office. A few months ago, a seventy-five year old woman came into my surgical office. She had recently been diagnosed with a rare condition that would require surgery. As soon as she heard of her diagnosis, being a progressive woman of the new millennium, she logged onto the Internet to learn more about her condition and to find a surgeon. She told me that she was able to check my background on the web and said, “Anyone who was captain of the Harvard track team is the one for me.” I was a bit confused about what one had to do with the other and a bit intimidated by what information is on the net, but this serves to show the influence that the Harvard name carries. Some might also say that this woman was very perceptive in realizing that the qualities organized athletics engender in the competitor also prepare the individual well for life other than sports. Certainly to be good at any sport requires special dedication, hard work and continuous studying and learning from the sport. And team sports fail without teamwork. All of these qualities would serve a surgeon well in training and in practice. Ah, but if this woman only knew what really happened with that menagerie we called a team. Oh sure, we had our brief pseudo-intellectual moments like when Sola Mahoney ’80 leapt up onto the baggage claim carousel at Logan Airport to recite from Shakespeare’s Othello. But those of us who were there remember that this performance was rapidly followed by Danny Sullivan ’78 doing his… well, let’s just say Danny had the original Body Beautiful before Jesse Ventura. And who could forget Harvard’s Sports Illustrated fame when Dave Kinney ’79, et al donned the face paint of the rock group KISS to psych out their opponents. And if this woman could have only witnessed the diminutive Peter Fitzsimmons ’79 receiving a loud and vigorous harangue by the proprietor of a small, rural motel for her misguided belief that he was the midnight hooligan who had changed the motel’s marquis to a less-than gracious phrase, all the while with McCurdy just chuckling and shaking his head, well maybe then she would have realized the error of her ways. But these are the treasured memories of my athletic experience at Harvard that are indelibly inked into my mind.

And how can I recount my memories of the team without mentioning the coaches, Ed Stowell, always there to encourage and guide the usually misguided field events men, and McCurdy who led both on and off the field primarily by example. As most of you know, coach McCurdy passed away this last spring. I had not kept in touch with him since leaving Harvard but his aphorisms and spirit have always been with me.

Oh, and that woman’s surgery went without a problem and I have yet to point out the error in her thinking.

I am truly and deeply honored to have been elected to the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame.