[HMSD] HMSD - The Power of the word Team

Tim D. Murphy tdmurphy at fas.harvard.edu
Wed May 21 21:59:07 EDT 2008

 Hello from Blodgett Pool!
    Many people have asked me about the success of the Men's Swimming 
and Diving Team this year.  I have commented that a key
ingredient was the leadership of our captains Geoff Rathgeber and Sam 
Wollner. Recently Geoff was asked to give a speech to the
Visiting Committee as a representative of the student athlete community. 
Geoff has given me permission to share his speech with you.
I believe you will find his words to be a powerful testament to the 
meaning of  "team" in Harvard Men's Swimming and Diving.

/*Visiting Committee Speech
          Tonight, I'm going to fight nerves and my urge to be overly 
nostalgic, and explain why my athletic career has been the single most 
important part of my Harvard experience.
          Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to address a group of 
recruits before the first night football game in Harvard's history. My 
takeaway point for the recruits was that it was possible for them to 
come to Harvard, to get better in their respective sports, and to make 
an impact on the national level.  I wanted them to realize that Harvard 
has one of the finest athletic departments in America and that they 
would be well served if they came to Cambridge.
            I delivered that speech at the beginning of my senior year.  
At the time, I thought I had crafted the perfect speech for that 
occasion.  Now, seven months later, I wish I could go back and add one 
crucial thing onto what I said. It's funny.... A senior year seems to 
change your perspective on everything.
            Looking back, I have achieved a lot over the years. I have 
medals, plaques, Ivy League Championships, and All America certificates 
to my name. Though I am proud of all of these things, they are still 
only things.
           What I cherish most about my four years as a swimmer at 
Harvard are the people. A month ago at our awards banquet, the team's 
seven seniors had a chance to speak in front of our teammates, parents 
and friends.  It may surprise you that, in these addresses, none of us 
mentioned our team's undefeated season or our two league championships.  
Instead, we all took the opportunity to thank our teammates and coaches 
for being the best part of our time at Harvard.  Luke Sanders, a senior 
diver and Ivy League Champion, likened us all to a huge alternative 
family with three dads and forty brothers.  We were that close.
            Well how did we get that close?  I think I finally realized 
the answer last week when one of my professors gave his last lecture 
here at Harvard after 46 years of teaching.  Fighting back tears, he 
told us that the most important lesson he learned in his career is to 
hold on to one's particularities.  As Couch Murphy can attest, our team 
thrived on these particularities.  Never before have I been part of a 
program that has been so accepting of everyone: black, white, shy, 
outgoing, gay, straight, Asian, British, etc.... we relished in each 
others differences, and it is these differences that gave our team its 
            What gave our team its heart, however, is a singular fact 
about all Harvard athletes.  That is the fact that none of us are here 
on scholarship.  Coach Murphy reminds us that at the beginning of each 
year.  We are here, a part of this program, because we want to be here. 
The fact that we commit twenty hours a week of strenuous exercise not 
out of obligation but out of love for the sport unites us in a fraternal 
bond that will last a lifetime.
            Now, I don't know how many people here have read the book or 
seen the movie Into the Wild.  The story's protagonist, Christopher 
McCandless, has to travel throughout the United States and live by 
himself in the wilderness of Alaska to realize one thing: that happiness 
is real when shared.  Athletics at Harvard taught me this lesson in four 
short years. Yes, sport is about the victories, the championships, and 
the practices, but it is also about the people you get to share those 
experiences with.  The people who ride the 5:40 shuttle with you to 
practice; the people who laugh with you at morning breakfasts in Eliot; 
and the people who jump into the Blodgett Pool to celebrate with you 
after winning an Ivy League Championship. No where is this lesson better 
exemplified than at Harvard where we athletes compete not out of 
obligation to a scholarship but for the love of the game and the love of 
each other.
           Thank you to everyone for listening, and members of the 
Visiting Committee, know that the Harvard Athletic Department is serving 
its students extremely well.

                                                      Geoff Rathgeber*/

*We have some exciting news regarding class credit for athletic gifts.
Michael Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, recently 
announced that *gifts to athletics Friends groups up to $10,000 will now 
receive class credit with the Harvard College Fund.  *The agreement, 
forged through a strengthened relationship between the Harvard College 
Fund and the Department of Athletics, has been implemented on a 
three-year trial basis and is retroactive for gifts dating back to July 
1, 2007.  Dean Smith and Bob Scalise, Nichols Family Director of 
Athletics, see this as a way to strengthen fund raising initiatives for 
both the athletic department as well as the Harvard College Fund.  It is 
imperative that both groups continue to receive the outstanding annual 
support of our loyal alumni/ae.
[For those of you unfamiliar with class credit, each class at Harvard is 
encouraged to support the Harvard College Fund to raise dollars for 
Harvard College and FAS priorities as well as University initiatives.  
Donors are honored with public recognition by crediting their gift to 
the College class from which they graduated.  Donors' names are listed 
by gift range in annual reports and donor listings.]*

*We would like to thank all of our Friends who donated this season. If 
you have not contributed  and would
like t**o make your annual contribution, please donate on line: 

_/Thank you to all have supported our Friends group so far this year/_
Abramson, David Harold '65
Berizzi, Steven S.    '73   
Bierrie, Eric P.    '51   
Bowen, Bradley J.       
Briggs, Winslow R.    '50   
Brown, Shepard    '50  
Brunnick, Peter A.        
Buffington, Peter    '58   
Cleveland, William E. S.    '87   
Clifton, Roger L.    '57   
Coffman, Amos J.    '62   
Cooley, Frederick B.    '61   
Corning, Steve       
Detzner, John    '77   
Diekema, Jylene    P'11    
Doganis, Yannis       
Festa, Stephen       
Flynn, Paul A.       
Gorman, Francis X.    '59   
Gray, J. Cary       
Guernsey, David T.       
Healy, Patrick J.    '89   
Hehir, Michael G.        
Hersh, Craig P.    '93   
Holland, Susan A.        
Hoon, Douglas M.       
Hunter, Dennis A.    '64   
Illig, Alan    P'84   
Jewell, Pliny    '54         
Kastin, Abba J.    '56   
Kaufman, Joseph H.    '89   
Kaufmann, Robert E.    '62   
Kidd, Donald A.    '92    M
Krause, Stephen K.    '71   
Law, David B.    '72    M
Lawton, Robert K.    '73   
Lewkowitz, Herman    P'11    
Lightfoot, John D.    '85   
Lind, Jon R.    '57   
Lockman, Andrew R.    '83   
Lundberg, John D.    '83   
Lynch, James R.       
Maegli, Juan U.    '50   
Malcolm, Miller D.    '54   
McCartney, Douglas    '60   
McKellar, Duncan       
Meier, Anthony P.    '84   
Melillo, Giovanni                
Miller, Clayton C.    '87   
Mills, Steven        
Mitchell, Frederick L.    '74     
Morrissey, Martha Stedham      
Nyweide, Justin C.    '02   
O'Connell, Patrick       
Osterberg, Richard B.    '96   
Perkins, Warren W.    '79   
Polino, Robert        
Quinn, Kevin G.                
Ranta, Bruce A.               
Rapperport, Alan S.    '55   
Rathgeber, Susan & John                    
Reese, Jeffrey H.              
Roebuck, Richard Ramsay    '73   
Root, Stephen C.    '93   
Ruberton, Robert J.    '97   
Sanders, H. Robert       
Sanders, H. Robert       
Stapleton, Paul       
Tanenbaum, William       
Thayer, Philip H.    '36   
Titcomb, Caldwell    '47   
Tompkins, Richard F.    '68   
Tyler, Robert S.    '84   
Vera, Joseph Sequeira    '50   
Walther, Douglas L.    '69   
Watkins, H. Norman    '50   
Wilson, Harry J.    '93   
Winslow, Boyd H.    '70   
Winslow, Boyd H.    '70   
Wise, Stephen A.    '46   
Woods, Thomas S.    '50   
Zakotnik, John        

**/* If by chance we failed to list your name please let us know. *//*We 
will be sure to send out updated list. */

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