Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I am sorry I cannot join you tonight to share this festive occasion and express in person how deeply honored I am to enter the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. A bad hip makes it hard to travel at this time.
Ask people about the game of squash singles and, if they do not confuse it with the vegetable, they will tell you it is quintessentially individual sport. One of the most striking aspects of squash at Harvard, therefore, is the extent to which the team context enriched what can be a lonely, self-absorbed enterprise. To be sure, there’s no denying the satisfaction I got as an individual to lose only one intercollegiate match in four years. But, curiously, the dramas which after so many years replay themselves most vividly in my mind are the team contests, the team camaraderie, and, not least, the team comedies.
An abiding theme of my squash experience at Harvard was a sense of privilege to join a long tradition of excellence and the equally strong, though unspoken, daunting duty to put forth one’s best to carry the accomplishment forward. The roster of championship teams and individual champions whose photos line the walls of Hemenway Gym represented not just the college scrapbook but truly the history of the sport itself.
As is likely the case for many Harvard athletes, no memory endures longer than that of our coach. I only regret that he, and my quietly supportive parents, did not live to have the pleasure of seeing this honor bestowed on their pupil and child.
A lifelong mentor and friend, Jack Barnaby was simply the best teacher I ever had. His influence extended from the practical to the profound. In showing how to master new shots and skills methodically piece by piece, like piano exercises, and apply them intelligently, he transformed generations of raw athletes into virtuoso performers. He tailored his advice to each individual’s unique mix of strengths and weaknesses, helping you to make the most of your intrinsic potential. All this was spiced with such an eternally boyish, infectious enthusiasm that one was eager to learn and work. He instilled the values of sportsmanship and of respect and consideration for each person regardless of rank of affiliation – for one’s teammates, whether ranked one or nine; for one’s opponents; and even for opposing coaches.
And, most valuable of all in retrospect, he tried his best to temper our intense, ambitious natures by reminding us to keep a healthy perspective and, practicing what he preached, demonstrated a self-deprecating humor. In this regard, he set a good example by proclaiming that of all his storied achievements he was proudest of having picked one summer at Squam Lake a record 72 quarts of wild blueberries.
Briefly put, Harvard was for me very much a multidimensional education acquired partly in the seminar room and professor’s office, as well as in Lowell House and the stacks of Widener. But, above all, it was immeasurably enriched by my involvement in Harvard Athletics.
Thanks, Varsity Club, for the honor. Thanks, Harvard Athletics, for the memories.