If the Harvard Athletic Department were looking to begin a campaign advertising the Harvard athlete, it would probably choose someone like Leslie Greis as what it would like to believe is the typical Harvard athlete.
The University's often-questioned, sometimes-praised approach to intercollegiate athletics distinguishes Harvard, and the Ivy League in general, from many other institutions of higher education.
But Leslie Greis is 100 per cent Harvard. Her attitudes and philosophies would delight even the staunchest Crimson traditionalist.
Consider the following views of the sophomore center and varsity golfer: "I wasn't too pleased about being put on J.V. [basketball] this year after playing varsity last season, but I realize you have to prove yourself every year. I tried not to let it bother me--it's only one part of my life at Harvard.
"Everyone has their cycles. I try to make up for what I lack in ability with motivation.
"The attitude towards sports here is a healthy one--sports for all."
She sounds like she's preparing to write a brochure for prospective freshmen about Harvard athletics, but it's real--she actually feels comfortable in the Harvard system.
Greis is a local talent, coming out of Holden, Mass., and Wachusett Regional High School. While there, she lettered in field hockey, basketball, and golf; and her decision to go to Harvard rather than Brown came about for a number of reasons.
"My whole family went to Brown and, to a certain extent, I wanted to be different," she says. "I felt as if I'd already been to Brown, having been brought up at reunions and such."
Greis says she also likes Cambridge and the Northeast in general. "I considered Duke, because they have a women's golf team and also a good academic program," Greis says. But she explains, in a fashion that would delight Harvard idealists, that her decision to come to Cambridge involved a bit of foresight.
"Golf is not everything," she contends. "It's important to me, but it's not something you can count on for the rest of your life. An education is."
It almost sounds like propaganda, but Greis is sincere in her opinions, and her actions support her views. She is here playing for the men's golf team, sacrificing the chance to be a top woman golfer or even a scholarship golfer. Instead, she's a Harvard athlete getting a Harvard education.
But setting aside the philosophical for a moment, Greis works into the Harvard program as a talented athlete. Spring and fall are spent on the links, but the winter brings her to the basketball court where she has proved explosive.
Crimson coach Carole Kleinfelder says, "Although Leslie's not our tallest player, her instincts inside have made her our starting center. What she does may not be technically correct, but the results are always there."
The first time she saw varsity action, last February in the Ivy Tournament in Philadelphia, Greis shocked host Penn with a game-high 29 points. Since then, Greis, working from the low post, has been a strong offensive threat and a consistent double-figure scorer. She has fit into the women's program quite well. In fact, she's fit into the University quite well.
She says that as both a woman and an athlete she is "comfortable" at Harvard.
Now that's something that's probably not so typical at Harvard.