Debi Field, coach of the women's field hockey and lacrosse teams, entered her office on the first floor of the Indoor Athletic Building the day after Labor Day, and began exchanging; warm greetings with her friend and office mate Stephanie Walsh, coach of the women's swim team. The two immediately began discussing when Walsh and her team would be moving into the new locker facilities in the soon-to-be-completed Phase I of the athletic complex being constructed across the river at Soldiers Field.
Field is back for her third year at Harvard, the longest she has ever stayed in one job, and also the longest time women's field hockey has had the same full-time coach. Field recalls that when she first came here, women didn't even have lockers, "The kids used to change in their rooms and just come down to the field," she said, adding that there were no uniforms and their playing field left a great deal to be desired.
Since then, the team has acquired three different kinds of uniforms; one for practices, one for away games and one for home games. The team also has its own trainer who travels with them and this year, there will be a new field, with a special water drainage system.
The improvements are the result of a lot of squawking, but Field says Harvard has been cooperative. Not only have the facilities improved markedly, but the changes have contributed to team morale. The field hockey team, which won only one game two years ago, lost but one--to Princeton--last year.
Victories, however, can be attributed to much more than new facilities. Perhaps the biggest change in women's athletics is the number of women who are now admitted to Harvard not only for their academic prowess, but also for their talents on the fields. There are no athletic scholarships for any Ivy League students, male or female, but Walsh says that women's coaches have been putting in their bids for candidates they have heard of through high school coaches to the Harvard admissions office. "We can't negotiate directly with any athletes," Walsh says, "but we talk to their coaches, and the admissions office. If they are academically qualified, we encourage that they be accepted."