When the Harvard field hockey coaches began recruiting for the 1984-'85 campaign, all eyes focused on Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania terrain. There, this year's tri-captains were grooming their talents in their final years of high school athletics.
The fact that Tri-Captains Cindi Ersek, Kate Felsen and Jane Grim played ball in the same area is only one of many coincidences that link them.
Ersek, Felsen and Grim all agree that the job of captain is just as important whether it is shared by three players, or the customary two. Due to their contrasting personalities and on-field styles, the tri-captains play different roles for the younger players looking for leadership on and off the field.
"They are very different and distinct individuals and all have different leadership qualities," says senior forward Nicole Simourian. "However, despite these differences, they all complement each other and are good representatives of what this team is all about."
"They all do a good job speaking for the players," Harvard Coach Nita Lamborghini says. "And they've all been significant parts in the building of the program."
Ersek, who hails from Ridley High School in Philadelphia, appears the most enthusiastic and vivacious of the three. Despite her bubbly personality, Ersek refuses to take credit for the team's enthusiasm on the field. Instead, she praises Felsen for inspiring the team with her leadership.
Always interested in athletics as a child, Ersek began playing field hockey and lacrosse as a freshman in high school and maintained her enthusiasm for the two sports throughout her collegiate career. She is also a captain of the 1987-'88 women's lacrosse team.
"All the girls on both teams are great," Ersek says of her twin leadership roles. "It is a big responsibility, but I'm excited about the challenge and the prospects of success for both teams."
Ersek feels that the Crimson's preseason trip to Holland promoted team unity and helped build for a successful 1987-'88 campaign.
"The trip brought the team together," Ersek says. "We did everything in a group and the returning players got game experience in the preseason, which prepared us for the competition of our Ivy League schedule. In addition, the trip to a foreign country gave Kate, Jane, and I added responsibility and provided us with a good test of our leadership."
"The trip did wonders for the team," adds Grim. "Living together for two whole weeks brought the team together and promoted a real team attitude. The competition in Holland is such that we had to play as a team in order to be successful on that level of competition."
Grim, who was encouraged to learn the sport from her childhood gymnastics coach, followed in her older sister's footsteps and decided to try out for her high school's varsity team as a freshman. Ever since earning a starting spot that year, Grim has had the drive to work hard to improve her game.
The way Grim sees it, each of the tri-captains has a different role on the team because they play different positions.
"At midfield, Kate controls the tempo of the game," Grim says. "Being in the middle of the action, she is usually the most vocal and therefore keeps the team on their toes."
"At the forward position, Cindigenerates excitement for the rest of the team with her hustling and spunky play," Grim adds. "When the other girls see Cindi working that hard, they follow her example and therefore the team plays better as a unit."
Grim views her role on the team as more of a stabilizer than a motivator. "Being in the backfield, I can see the whole field," Grim says. "I can use my steady stick to settle the ball from the back of where the action is. In doing this, I can settle the team down as well if necessary."
"Jane provides us with a steady and even-keeled element," says Felsen, who describes her own style of play as "vocal and aggressive."
She adds, "[Grim's] low-key approach from the backfield creates a good balance for the team and contrasts what the opponents see with Cindi and me up front."
Felsen, who first played the sport in her fifth-grade gym class, also agrees with her fellow tri-captains about the importance of the team's trip to Holland. "The team unity ran a little deeper just because we were in a foreign country and so far away from home," she says. "Because of this, we grew together and became more of a unit."
Felsen, who leads the team with four goals, says her family has prepared her well for the leadership role. She is the eldest of four children and her father was a three-sport athlete at Haverford College.
Following her father's lead, Felsen played three sports at Germantown Friends School and was captain of the varsity basketball team before coming to Harvard and devoting herself to field hockey and lacrosse.
When they graduate this spring, all three will miss the camaraderie and competition of the sport. However, achieving their ultimate goal--a firstever Ivy title--is within reach this season. After a 1-0 victory over Penn in the Crimson's first league game, all the players are looking forward to the challenge of capturing the elusive title.
Says Ersek: "We all want those Ivy League rings on our fingers."