Most people remember when Harvard received national attention for in campus process and disturbances in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but few realize that at the same time Harvard athletics were in the national limelight.
Some of the finest records in football, hockey, crew and basketball were compiled during the most fierce campus political confrontations. Tickets for games in the IAB and Watson Rink sold out days in advance, and there was strong undergraduate support for most major teams.
Dale Dover, '71, who led the Crimson cagers to a top-10 national ranking, his senior year, remembers that sports played a large part in school life. Despite student unrest," athletics held a more prominent position than they do now," he says.
Now a proctor in Weld North, Dover came to Harvard following an outstanding career at Evander Childs High School in New York, Virginia and UCLA heavily recruited Dover, and he chose Harvard "with ambivalence," he recalls.
The decision he made against devoting himself fully to basketball haunted Dover throughout his four undergraduate years, since he knew Harvard would not prepare him for a professional basketball career as well as some of the other schools that wanted him.
Nevertheless, Dover caught the eye of more than one pro scout as he led the Crimson through a sparkling 1971 season which included a second-place Ivy League finish. The Celtics and the Harlem Globetrotters both expressed interest in his jump shot, and he spent one month in training camp with Boston.
After finding the going a but tough in American pro ball, Dover moved on to the position of player-coach with a Portuguese team and guided that squad from obscurity to a Portuguese national championship. The league included Angola and Mozambique, and Dover got to tour Czechoslovakia to play in World Cup matches.
Dover's Harvard experiences prepared him for both international work and professional sports. Majoring in Far Eastern Languages, he added fluency in Chinese and Swahili to his knowledge of French. He joined the Foreign Service in 1974 and has held posts in Denmark, Portugal and Israel.
He credits the Harvard coaching staff for instilling him with a competitive spirit, which clearly lingers today whether he's playing in Law School or freshman intramural games.
Then Crimson Coach Bob Harrison, though blessed with many All-American high school players, made "tremendous demands" on his team, says Dover. "He was not terribly [complimentary] when we did things right, but he certainly did let us know when we did things wrong."
Yet Harrison and his assistant, K.C. Jones (an assistant coach now with the Celtics) left all of their Crimson charges with the same drive for victory, adds Dover. After winning the recent basketball tournament. Dover admits that he still doesn't like to lost "even in pick up games."
Dover and his wife, Shelly Cramer, returned to Cambridge after his Foreign Service assignment in Israel. He is now in his second year at the Law School, where he also finds time to create a women's basketball team and play on the men's "A" League that won the division laurels this year.
The Dover family includes Lauren, 5, and Noah, 2, who were born in Denmark and Israel, respectively. His father throws basketballs into Noah's hands from time to time, but predicts that the take will someday be an orthopedic surgeon, Lauren plans to be a dancer, "and a doctor like her mother," who holds a Ph. D. and is a psychologist.
Looking back on the years since his graduation, Dover sees real value in his scholar-athlete experience. He believes "students should think in terms of developing as people"--especially when there are increasing pressures to move toward traditional professional tracks like medicine.
His own decision between academics and a total commitment to athletics; although wrenching, ultimately produced a successful professional life, both in sports and the Foreign Service, Dover explains, Eleven years later, he says he still enjoys the lure of competition.