Life on the Second Floor Ain't All That Bad

The Director's Chair

There's no money for assistant coaches, no pretty Crimson warm-up suits, no University-provided cleats, and no training table for the players. But even in the face of these shortages, the Harvard women's soccer team is surviving quite well--even if they live on Level 2.

Actually, life as a Level 2 varsity team is not all that bad. The team misses out on the nice extras that Level 1 varsities receive; but for the most part, life isn't all that rough.

"Basically, we've been just like a Level 1 sport," said co-captain Nancy Levin. "We've gotten most of the things we've needed."

The main drawback is that Level 2 status puts the women low on the priority list for services.

"We are behind all Level 1 sports in the waiting line to get the field lined and have our nets put up," said coach Bob Scalise. "The Buildings and Grounds people just don't always have time to get to our field and prep it before a game."

As a Level 2 sport, women's soccer also receives only partial funding from the athletic department; aside from the items mentioned above, they also do not receive a full travel funds and money for a "B" program.

For travel, the women are given funds for chartered buses, and have traveled with the men upon occasion to cut expenses. However, they do not get sufficient funds for long trips like the plane ride to Pennsylvania.

"We also took some of the money we raised from the Friends of Women's Soccer program to pay for a 'B' team," co-captain Karen Fifer said. "With no women's intramural soccer, we felt that any woman who wants to play soccer should be able to, so we started our own 'B' program."

"We're a Level 2 team, but I'm running the program as if we were a full Level 1 varsity," said coach Bob Scalise. "Commitment is what we expect from the women."

Commitment is also what Harvard wants from the women. Last year, women's soccer was a club sport, and as Scalise said, "They basically gave us $800 and told us to do whatever we wanted with it."

After a season of little travel and poor equipment, the women decided they would make the try for varsity status. That's where Levin and Fifer came to the forefront.

The captains drew up a proposal outlining the women's needs and aspirations as well as the relatively brief history of women's soccer at Harvard. (The women's program was informally begun in the fall of 1975.) They presented that proposal to former athletic director Bobert Watson and then began to lobby.

"Karen and I were in talking to Niki Janus [assistant athletic director] almost every day," said Levin. "They were receptive to the idea, but were just concerned about whether there would be a long-term commitment from the women to the team. They didn't want to throw away money on something that wouldn't exist next year."

The women had a strong case though. At the suggestion of the athletic department, they had already formed the Friends program in the spring of '75. Through that group the team had raised almost $1,000 in just a few months.

Letters of support from parents, friends, alumni, and other Harvard athletes all helped in persuading the department to award the women Level 2 funding for 1977.

"We'll gradually work up in a two-to three-year period," said Scalise. "The growth in high school programs is tremendous, and the women enjoy the sport because it involves coordination, balance and gracefulness."

But even at the second level, Scalise and the women have found a successful way of life. They've stormed to a 5-2-1 record with five games remaining in the season. But more importantly, they are making the program work.

"It's great coaching these kids," Scalise said. "They're good athletes and they're enthusiastic...and they are committed."