Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
Quite often we hear about the exploits of successful athletes who have committed themselves to their sport with single-minded dedication, and have known from a young age that they wanted to be good at that particular endeavor. I can honestly say that I never fit into that mold. I began playing lacrosse as an eighth-grader (where I live now, it’s heresy to start playing later than the third grade), and even though I won many honors as a defenseman by the tenth grade, I never wanted to make lacrosse my only focus in life and certainly not in college. That’s why I chose Harvard and loved playing there. Harvard gave me the opportunity to play the sport, win or lose (and we did lots of both), and at the end of the day I was able to walk back across the Anderson Bridge to a fulfilling college life that was rich in many other ways.
During my four years at Harvard (1977 to 1981), we had three winning seasons, one Ivy title, and one NCAA playoff appearance. We were ranked as high as seventh in the country at one point, but I will always remember us as a group of overachievers who loved to play hard on and off the field. It was a wonderful playing experience.
During my senior year, expectations for the team were high when Frank Prezioso and I became captains of the team. Unfortunately, we had more injuries in one year than in all the previous seasons combined. We lost our star midfielder, Brendan Meagher, within seconds of the first face-off, and our problems compounded with each successive game. My own season was cut in half with a leg injury, and I limped through the remaining games taped from crotch to toe, barely able to do more than wave my stick and yell at our opponents.
If I’d chosen to attend a hard-core lacrosse school, the disappointment of my final season might have consumed my life. But at Harvard, I was more than a lacrosse player, so many other extracurricular activities balanced my disappointment. In fact, when things were the most bleak for our team in the spring of 1981, I took a chance and asked a fellow Kirkland House woman on a date. The same woman, Caroline Adams (1983), married me a week after she graduated and we have had 17 fabulous and interesting years together. Not the least of that has been the birth of our three beautiful children, Haywood, Samantha, and Bayard, who are all talented and special in their own ways, and who might leave their own mark at Harvard when they are older.
I can’t write an essay about my life without giving tribute to my parents, Hoyle and Jane Miller, who have supported me my entire life in pee-wee leagues, high school, and college, no matter what sport I was playing nor how well I did. Through judo, football, wrestling, swimming, baseball, and lacrosse, my parents always made me believe that I was the most important player on the field, if not always the best. To the casual observer, it may have seemed that their intensity – watching practices and cheering wildly at scrimmages – was over the top, but I never thought so. It was comforting to know that no matter what happened, I would always go home to love and a sympathetic ear. In the Miller home, effort was always the barometer of success or failure, not accomplishment. This was a powerful life lesson, and I am forever indebted to my parents to instilling that in me. It’s my job now to pass that along to my own children as they embark on their own competitive careers.