Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I want to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for this great honor and for the opportunity to reflect on my time as a student-athlete and the people who helped me along the way.
Like many college athletes, I grew up more or less obsessed with my sport, and was very focused on finding a school where I could continue to make it a top priority. During my fall recruiting trips, I was struck how few captains had started pre-season practice, and how few coaches let their top women train with the men’s team during the season. My junior coach, Julieanne Harris, had taught me to be relentless in training and to always seek out new challengers. She was so dedicated to my progress that she used to drive me, just 12 years old at the time, to practice on the only international squash court in town -- a converted garage in the back of some squash enthusiast’s home in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pa. When I learned that the Harvard team had mobilized and started joint, unofficial practices in October, and that Harvard men’s and women’s squash not only shared a coach but a team mentality, it was an early sign that I had found my home.
I started my freshman year both eager and naive. One of my first memories of collegiate squash is playing in a pre-season, hit-around at Yale, which the legendary Dave Talbott had organized for several of the top players on the circuit. I took Amtrak down first thing Saturday morning, jumped into one of the cabs waiting outside of the station, and directed the cabbie to Payne Whitney Gym. Confused, he asked me where I was trying to go. Yale University, I remember saying, exasperated. He turned to me and said that Yale University was in New Haven and I, my dear, was in Hartford. I nodded, opened the cab door, and dragged my squash bag over to a public pay phone. I didn’t have change and by the time I figured out how to call home collect, I was choking down tears. I thought it was the end of the world-- I was going to be late to my match, and, more terrifyingly, I had no idea where I was. My mother answered and I’ll always remember her saying, “Sweetie, I am always getting lost. It happens! Just take some money out at an ATM and ask the cabbie to take you to New Haven.” Forty-five minutes and $80 later, I made it to Yale’s courts, jumped on, and won my match.
I spent most of my freshman year bounding around the courts with something to prove (assistant coach Chris Schutz nicknamed me “Beast”). I admired how the rest of the team welcomed me and the other freshmen, Carlin Wing ’02, Colby Hall ’02 and Sara Feinberg ’02. Our seniors, the class of ’99 (Stephanie Teaford, Brooke Herlihy, Ilana Eisenstein, Lindsey Wilbur, and Leah Ramella), were our biggest cheerleaders, even after we bumped them from three of the top six spots on the ladder. I remember quite clearly having to play Brooke for that number one position. We were assigned to a court far removed from the rest of practice, and left to battle it out. With no spectators or refs, I worried whether I would be able to keep my composure, not a strong suit of mine. I don’t remember much of the match itself, but I remember a deep sense of relief when it was over and Brooke congratulated me. She may have even given me a hug (although I was not the hugging type). And despite the fact that I lost nearly all of my matches in our most competitive contests that year, this group of seniors supported us and led us to an undefeated regular season and the Ivy League championship. I remember the heartbreaking loss we had against Princeton on our courts that spring, in the finals of the national championships (Howe Cup). While the loss itself stung, it was the image I have of those seniors-- still sweating from their own matches, banging on the back of courts to urge us on, while they hustled to referee the next match-- that stood out and gave me a true template of Harvard leadership.
As the class of ’99 prepared to graduate, we learned that the other pillar of our team, head coach Bill Doyle, would not be returning. Bill had recruited and trained me and I liked his stern, focused coaching style. He ran practice like a drill master; his intensity matched my own. We lifted in the gym next to much buffer ice hockey players, we ran stadiums, we did crunches until we couldn’t pull ourselves or our teammates off the floor. There was whistleblowing and occasional tears (Bill had a zero tolerance attendance policy and often sent players home who came in late). But Bill embodied Harvard squash and its expectation of excellence, and with his surprise departure, and the departure of the class of 1999, I felt completely at sea. The arrival of Coach Satinder Bajwa ushered in a new era for Harvard squash-- one that swapped traditional practices for 6am hot yoga sessions at Baron Baptiste (before it became mainstream), solo drilling, and, I think, a long running motif about windows and bird cages. But more importantly, I remember Baj asking us to come to practice not because we had made a commitment to him, our teammates, and Harvard Athletics, but because we had made a commitment to ourselves.
We muscled through the chaos and youth of my sophomore year season. Led by captain Blair Endressen ’00, I remember storming the Yard after each tough team loss, painted in mascara and donning black outfits, embracing and rebelling against our misfortune. We emerged in my junior year toughened and ready to take back the national championship, thanks in large part to the addition of the talented and fearless Louisa Hall ’04, who would become one of my closest allies and friends. As she took over the number one position, I took over my new duties as co-captain. At Howe Cup that year, I played a must-win match against a Penn player, Daphne Wagner, who had taken a number of years off to serve in the Israeli army before suiting up for the Quakers. I captured the first two games in a physical, hard-hitting display, but midway through the third, Daphne lingered too close to my backswing and lost two teeth. She looked at me, spat out her bloodied teeth, and said: “You broke my face.” She walked off the court, deposited her teeth somewhere, and returned to take the next two games. I managed to emerge from my daze and found the win that would help lead us to Harvard’s first national championship since 1997. We were elated, and once we got home we took turns with the Howe Cup tied to our wrists (lest it get lost) as we celebrated together around the square.
In my senior year, we welcomed a strong cadre of freshman players. It was a fitting bookend. These young women conjured up the spirit of the class of ’99 with their deep talent and the strong friendships they forged. Despite being surrounded by this new energy and coming off of a fantastic junior year, I felt unmoored. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, for the second time in three years. The type was very aggressive and had moved quickly to her brain by the start of the season. My parents were masterful at concealing the seriousness of her diagnosis, urging me on in all of my senior year endeavors, but toward the season’s end, her prognosis was undeniably worse (she would pass away six weeks after my graduation). Honestly, I don’t think I even considered going home. I stuck it out and ended up sublimating a lot of raw emotion into my squash. I remember many hard fought challenge matches against freshman dynamo, Lindsey Wilkins ’05, who was angling for my spot on the ladder. She had enough intensity to light a house on fire – all leg and racket, a racket with which I became intimately acquainted whenever I was slightly out of position. And while I managed to survive each of those contests, I showed little of the grace Brooke displayed against me four years earlier. I was inevitably enraged, or in tears, or both. I remember Mohammad Ayaz, a coach of endless patience, saying something to help me put these matches in perspective (I am sure I did not react well). I am thankful for the outlet Harvard squash gave me during that difficult year and incredibly proud that our team brought us another Ivy League championship that season.
My squash family, and the people I have been introduced to through it, include some of my most enduring and important friendships. I knew and loved many of my teammates before even starting at Harvard – my two-co-captains, Virginia Brown ’00 and Colby Hall ’02, as well as Colby’s sister Louisa ’04 and Stephanie Teaford ’99, were my down-the-street neighbors in Philadelphia. Carlin Wing ’02 and I were fast friends on the junior circuit and made an early pact to attend Harvard together. Nano Whitman ’02, another Philadelphia recruit and our future best man, would be randomly assigned to room with my future husband, Amias Moore Gerety ’02, their freshman year. Even after I graduated, I always felt connected and committed to the players, the team, those courts. I came back as an assistant coach before I started law school at HLS, then as a volunteer in my 1L and 2L years. I would play down at the Murr Courts on Saturdays and Sundays with squash phenom Hope Prockop ’90, who would become one of my all-time favorite squash people. I continue to play squash whenever I can, and I occasionally dream that I’m still eligible to play for Harvard and am hustling to the courts in time for lineup and handshakes. It’s not lost on me that I would never make the team now-- Coach Mike Way has turned Harvard squash into an absolute powerhouse (indeed, his players will soon crowd the ranks of this Hall of Fame). But I have and will always feel like a valuable member of this fantastic team, and this remarkable school. Thank you again Harvard for this great honor, and my congratulations to all the other inductees.