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Remembering Harvard Athletics
When I think back to my Harvard lacrosse experience, my strongest memories are of my family, teammates and coaches, and their commitment. My family has always been extraordinarily supportive, and even now it is hard to fully express my appreciation to them. My father, in particular, frequently came to games, taking time away from the rest of his busy life. His constant presence and vocal support provided a consistent source of strength and encouragement.
For me, as I believe is true for most athletes, my teammates became an extended family. When I arrived as a freshman at Harvard, the Ivy League was in its final year of prohibiting freshman from playing varsity lacrosse. Things were fairly bleak for the lacrosse program. There had been a long history of losing teams, and as the Ivy League had become a center of lacrosse excellence, Harvard had fallen far behind. My freshman coach was Bruce Munro, who was completing his career at Harvard, and so my teammates and I experienced the end of one era of Harvard lacrosse and the beginning of a new one. My freshman year was a humbling experience. I had come from a highly competitive high school program, and my first year was a bitter disappointment. But, together with my teammates and now friends, especially Hank Leopold, Bob Mellon, Andy Krouner, and Dan Kallmerten, we persevered.
During my freshman year, Harvard hired Bob Scalise to become the new head lacrosse coach. My sophomore year was enormously satisfying. We had an extremely successful season, surprising nearly everyone, capped by a victory over a highly regarded Princeton team. It was the beginning of a renaissance in Harvard lacrosse that has persisted until today. My strongest memories of that year were learning the level of commitment necessary to excel at the intercollegiate level, and the importance of senior leadership. Kevin McCall in particular served as a role model and the force of his need to win propelled us forward that year. Junior year was a great disappointment, probably because we, as a team, lacked the commitment and leadership that had been so important my sophomore year.
Senior year was nearly all that I could have hoped for. The addition of Scott Anderson and Ted Marchell to our coaching staff brought a new level of sophistication that made us competitive with the very best of teams. The blossoming underclass talents such as Peter Predun, Mike Faught, and Ken First helped us to develop into an excellent lacrosse team. An early season victory over a nationally ranked Penn team convinced us that we were the equals of everyone else (except perhaps reigning national champions Cornell, who once again crushed us). We ascended in the national rankings and were on the cusp of getting into the playoffs, when we met UMass. We suffered a bitter defeat, losing by one goal. Ironically, my brother played for UMass and contributed to our loss – a fact I am never allowed to forget.
I retain vivid memories of my lacrosse years at Harvard. I can recall the smell of the cage during our winter workouts, walking back to Lowell House with teammates, the joy of Princeton victory, the bitterness and total exhaustion of the UMass defeat.
Most of all, though, I remember the people. Although I have lost touch with my teammates, I know that if I were to call them up or go visit the years would melt away. My then girlfriend, now wife, Hildy nursed my wounds, propped me up when I faltered, and smacked me down when I got, what she still refers to as, “my Harvard smirk.” My brothers came to watch, called often, and cared deeply. My mother even came to the UMass game to see her two sons play, trying to pretend that she was neutral. (I know you were rooting for Dave, Mom.) But most of all I remember my father. He was always there, always supportive, always interested. It is only now, as I raise three children of my own, that I have begun to understand the depth of his commitment and love. Family and commitment, the values taught to me by my parents, reinforced by lacrosse, remain the touchstones of my life.