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 wonderful honor. It is such a privilege to be here, and to count myself among the great athletes who have been inducted into the Harvard Hall of Fame. I also want to thank my family, friends, and teammates for being here. It is wonderful to be able to share this with you.
I found out that I was being inducted into the Hall of Fame almost a year ago, and I have thought a lot about how my participation as an athlete has helped to shape who I am and the way I live my life. Although I do not play tennis much anymore (I spend most of my free time as a spectator, volunteer coach, and chauffeur for my children's athletic endeavours) I know that the lessons I learned on the court— perseverance, good sportsmanship, commitment, and the ability to learn from my successes and failures— continue to influence me today.
I thank my parents for the opportunity to learn the game and for the many sacrifices they made so that I could develop as a player and a person. Driving me to tournaments, paying for lessons, sending me across the county to compete, and for the many, many buckets of balls my mother hit to me, so that I could hone my shots. The expectation of excellence was always present as I was growing up. But really, all that meant was doing one's best, and to never stop believing in oneself. It seems like such a long time ago, but as I find myself making the same sacrifices my parents made for my own children, it seems like only yesterday. My parents taught me the value of making a commitment to something and the importance of setting goals and following through; for that I am most grateful.
Tennis brought me to Harvard, and allowed me to experience four of the most memorable years of my life. My best memories of Harvard are of long rides in the team van, spring trips out to California, team dinners, taking final exams in hotel rooms, and even those wretched challenge matches. Winning the Ivy League every year, qualifying for nationals, we thought we were hot stuff, we even thought we were better looking than any of the other teams! You would think that having our clocks cleaned at the NCAAs every year would have reduced the high opinion we had of ourselves. Well, it never did. After all, we beat Princeton and Yale every year, and that is what really mattered. Representing Harvard as a varsity athlete was an incredible experience, and I draw on the confidence that I developed as a Harvard athlete every day of my life. Thank you to my teammates for all of the great times, and thanks to Don Usher for some great years of coaching.
I can't leave here without mentioning one of the major reasons, if not the primary reason that I was able to attend Harvard University: Title IX. During the early '80s, colleges and universities began to beef up their recruitment of women athletes in order to be in compliance with the Title IX legislation. Fortunately for me, this was just about the time that I was applying to colleges. Yes, I was a good student, and had a respectable national junior tennis ranking, but the Ivy League did not typically spend much time, money and effort to recruit female athletes from the west coast. And, as I have discovered through my experiences as a volunteer interviewer for Harvard Admissions in Northern New York, there are many highly qualified young men and women who are denied admission. However, during the fall of 1982, Dean Jewett came to my house in Santa Barbara to interview me as a favor to Don Usher. That is when I knew Harvard wanted me to be there.
I know that Title IX has been receiving a lot of negative press lately, and I must say that I am frightened, as the parent of three girls, to think that this important piece of legislation might be amended. I have spoken to many women, not much older than I am, who talk about the almost non-existent athletic opportunities that existed for women prior to the Title IX legislation. The female athletes that we see today are strong, competitive and confident young women; Qualities that are essential for success in our society. High school girls who participate in sports are less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, more likely to graduate from high school with better grades, and less likely to engage in health-risk behaviors. These are critical women's health and wellness issues that cannot be ignored. The opportunity to make a commitment to an athletic endeavor and to participate on a team impacts every area of one's life. From commitment to education, commitment to a career, and commitment to one's family. I recently had this conversation with my fourteen year-old daughter, Hannah, as she was complaining about 8 a.m. basketball practices during her winter break from school. Yes, being an athlete does require commitment and sacrifice, but what is the alternative? For girls to return to being spectators, receding into the background, and basing their self-image on factors beyond their control is completely unacceptable.
Finally, I want to say that I am proud to have been a member of the Harvard Tennis team, a nationally ranked and recognized tennis program. Thank you to the coaches and my teammates for memories that I will always cherish. Thank you to my parents, my husband, Mike, and my children, Grace, Hannah, Emily and Nicholas for your unconditional love and support. And thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club. I am truly honored.