'88 is great. Especially in the field of women's athletics.
For Kate Felsen, Sharon Hayes, Julie Sasner and their classmates, three years adds up to a ton of wins.
To date, the Harvard class of '88--female style--has more wins in varsity sports than its Ivy League counterparts. Credit this success to a handful of superstars and a field full of very good senior athletes.
In both the 1984-'85 and '85-'86 seasons the Crimson women captured four Ivy titles, and last season came away with an unprecedented five Ivy championships, a pair of undefeated regular season crew records and a national squash title.
Since the consolidation of Harvard and Radcliffe in 1974, the number of women participating in intercollegiate sports at Harvard has ballooned, and the Class of '88 has proven itself to be the premier group of female athletes in Harvard history.
Of the 19 sports in which Crimson women participate at the varsity level, it is rare to find a team that doesn't showcase at least one talented member of this year's senior class.
One of the major sports to benefit from the recent boom is women's basketball. A program that had struggled with sub-500 records since its inception, the women cagers rebounded for two consecutive winning seasons and a share of an Ivy title in 1985-'86.
"Up until that class we didn't feel we had the kind of player we wanted," Coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "Recruiting came to a head with that class. Now we are in the running for nationally considered athletes."
Delaney Smith's 1986 championship squad sported five '88ers, headed by forward Sharon Hayes.
Hayes, a three-year starter, has consistently climbed her way up the all-time scorers' list and now rests in second place with 947 career points, only 67 shy of a new record. She received All-Ivy honors the past two years, and led the league in scoring for a substantial part of last season.
But basketball isn't the only sport in which Hayes has excelled. Hayes earned first team All-Ivy honors in her freshman season--in softball.
Another standout basketball star is guard Barbarann Keffer, also an All-Ivy selection the past two seasons. Keffer holds the Harvard all-time assist record after only three seasons.
Joining the Hayes-Keffer duo on the court are two-year starter Nancy Cibotti, and talented reserves Hanya Bluestone and Mary Baldauf.
Baldauf made her mark in Crimson athletics early, leading the nation in batting average as a freshman on the softball team.
Earning All-Ivy honors is not a rarity for Crimson women athletes. Last season 30 women were first-team All-Ivy selections. Among them was three-time honoree Julie Sasner.
Sasner earned Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman ice hockey player, and has improved steadily ever since. Second on the Crimson all-time scoring list with 103 points, Sasner captained the team to a first-ever Ivy title last season. She's also one of the top forwards on the women's soccer team, and earned an honorable mention for her 1986 campaign.
The women's soccer team had five players honored last season--three of them members of the Class of '88. Besides Sasner, 1987 Co-Captains Karin Pinezich and Tracee Whitley were named to All-Ivy teams. Nationally recognized as a top goalie, Whitley has earned All-America honors twice in her Harvard career.
Whitley isn't the only female Harvard athlete to catch national attention. Senior Diana Edge led the women's squash team to a national championship last season.
With many of the talented women competing in multiple sports, it's not surprising that 22 of the 25 Crimson athletes receiving varsity letters in two sports last year were women.
Besides Hayes, Baldauf, and Sasner, there was a pair of field hockey/lacrosse players--Cindi Ersek and Kate Felsen. Captains on this fall's field hockey team, the pair helped lead the lacrosse team to Ivy titles in 1985 and 1986.
The success of the women athletes in the Class of '88 is unprecedented. With the likes of such other senior standouts as Lori Barry and Cari Lyn Beck (soccer), Leelee Groome (field hockey and lacrosse), and Molly Clark (swimming), it's hard to think of another year with such a talented crop of recruits.
Unless, of course, you look to the Class of '89. Or '90.