Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I am very grateful and humbled to be honored tonight by the Harvard Varsity Club. Whenever I reflect on my time as an undergrad, I cannot help but smile and remember countless laughs with my coaches, teammates, and classmates. I was surrounded by people that genuinely cared about me and my accomplishments would not have been possible without this support and encouragement. My teammates who started this journey with me at Harvard in the fall of 1996 are all here tonight; 19 years later, that speaks to itself. My journey at Harvard started years prior to filling out an application and receiving an acceptance letter. I am a realist, and quite frankly, without wrestling Harvard would not have been possible. I was introduced to wrestling at the age of 4 by my uncle who was a high school wrestling coach. He continued to help me throughout my wrestling career. My high school wrestling coaches were successful Division 1 wrestlers; they understood what was needed to be competitive at the collegiate level and weren’t shy about pushing me. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to an intensity level as a high school freshman that most wrestlers do not experience until college. All of this played a part in me ending up at Harvard. Athletics were a big part of my family. I have 2 older brothers who both played football in college. I always looked up to them and although we are all quite different, they served as, and continue to be, terrific examples of integrity and friendship. My grandparents also played a huge role in my athletic life. They carted me around to numerous practices and competition and they were also my biggest fans giving more than their share of encouragement. Most important, my parents always supported me, always led me to the right path, and always provided unwavering inspiration. My father never missed one of my 150-plus high school or one of my 125-plus college wrestling matches. I was raised in a working class family and my parents lived life without pretense, and as I age, I appreciate my parents’ sacrifice more and more. My father departed this life less than a year after I graduated Harvard, I hope he knows I hold him in the highest regard as a father. To my mother, thank you for all you have done and continue to do. I will always be in debt to the support I received from my family prior to and during college. Now, onto my reflections as a student athlete at Harvard. My teammates had a profound influence on my life. This continues through today and will into the future. I have countless memories and laughs with teammates. I cherish this more than anything that I was able to take with me from Harvard. My best friends today are my teammates and roommates from undergrad. I find it remarkable that I still talk to every teammate from the Class of 2000; we had unbelievable camaraderie in college and it continues today. Please know that I appreciate you all - I was able to learn a little about wrestling and a lot about life from each of you. The coaching I experienced at Harvard was second to none. On a personal level it was more than I ever expected, and from a technical standpoint it was outstanding. Coach Weiss (Jay) is more than a coach, he has become a great friend. Jay and I grew up 15 miles apart in Pennsylvania, maybe that explains our affinity towards each other. I cannot thank him enough for recruiting a small, Pennsylvania steel-town, high school junior, for pushing me and encouraging me, for helping me believe in myself, for giving me advice outside of wrestling, and for putting me through ungodly aerodyne work-outs when I oversleeping numerous times as a freshman. To me, Jay is exactly what a coach should be for a college wrestler; someone who helps you on the mat but sees the bigger picture beyond wrestling. Fifteen years later, I still cherish my favorite time of day during college - the 3:30 PM walk to wrestling practice. In addition to Jay, I had several other exceptional coaches at Harvard:
• Andy McNerney (Harvard ’83): I still wonder how someone twice my age could beat me so badly. The older I get the more I appreciate your athletic ability, intellect, and friendship. • Charlie Becks: You are one of the mentally and physically toughest individuals I have ever met. You helped me immensely with my weight management (or lack there of) and for that I thank you.
• Kendall Cross (1996 Olympic Gold Medalist): Humility was learned quickly when someone 30 pounds lighter can beat you handily with what I perceived was about 75% effort. • Coach Taropin: You taught me more about the technical side of wrestling than anyone I have ever been around. I appreciate your knowledge and one-of-a-kind personality. I wish I would have derived more wrestling knowledge and life experiences from all my coaches; they were more than willing to give it. I appreciate their contribution to my teammates’ and my successes and realize how special of an opportunity I was given. Thank you all. Success in college athletics can be measured in numerous ways; for me the most important measure is to be able to translate what you learned through athletics to everyday life. I recall a conversation my senior year in college with Andy McNerney when he told me the most important decision in life is who you share it with; whether it be a spouse, friends or family. I am fortunate to spend my life with loyal friends, my wife of ten years, and our amazing family. All of my athletic achievements are overshadowed by my ultimate accomplishment, my son Weston and my daughter Briar. Hopefully I can teach them many of the important lessons that I learned as an athlete at Harvard. While I would love for them to play sports; we will see where life leads them. All I know is that my wife and I will be there every step of the way, encouraging them to dream big and cheering them on.