Portrait of an 'Old Lady'

The Director's Chair

Sue Williams is the "old lady" of the Harvard women's basketball team, but she's far from going senile or losing the "spunk of youth." At 21, Sue is the only senior on the Harvard team and the only player on either the Harvard, Princeton or Yale women's basketball teams that will graduate this spring.

But don't you believe that graduation will separate Sue from basketball. She's been playing the game for ten years now and she is too attached to the sport to leave it alone as just a memory of "the good old college days."

After graduation, Sue plans to take a year off from school and return to her home in Yuba City, Arizona. While there she will join some of her former high school teammates and play with a women's basketball team in an Arizona League.

But she looks ahead to returning to Harvard Law School in 1978 and becoming the manager of the women's basketball team here for her three-year graduate stay. "I'll come back to the basketball team," she said, adding kiddingly, "that is, if Carole will put up with me."

Crimson coach Carole Kleinfelder would do anything but object to Sue Williams' presence. "I have a great deal of respect for Sue," she said. "She's very busy right now with her thesis and other commitments and it would have been easy for her to let basketball go by this year. But despite all the pressure she's under, Sue played because basketball means a great deal to her."

Sue came close to letting her senior year slip by without hoop. The season was two weeks old before she came to a Crimson practice. At that point she was planning not to play. 'The past three years of basketball here had been such bad experiences for me," she said, "that I didn't want to continue the painful times."

But when Sue saw the new team and "the way everyone was enjoying practice with Carole," she said she changed her mind. "After watching for just 20 minutes," she said, "I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to play this year."

Having played basketball all four of her years here, Sue has seen the amazing transition that has occurred with women's basketball at Harvard in the past four years. She said when she started, "no one took the game seriously, the coaching was poor, and the team had no support from anyone.

"We used to go out and drink away our losses in those years," she said, adding that the team was not together and basketball was not fun. But with the support of Nikki Janus, assistant athletic director, and the arrival of Kleinfelder, Sue said basketball at Harvard has gone "from one of the worst to one of the absolutely best experiences I've had at Harvard."

"For the first time," she said, "the players are looking to basketball for enjoyment, and that's what it's all about."

Sue said she hopes to spend some of her year away from school by looking to organize the "Friends of Harvard Women's Basketball." She said the group would provide financial support for the team to show we're still with them."

She said she believes there are plenty of alumni who would be interested.

So, with her knee heavily taped due to an injury and much of her strength sapped by the academic requirements of being a senior at Harvard, Sue Williams continues to play basketball.

Carole Kleinfelder, you're not the only one who respects Sue.