Soccer's Ramy Rajballie
It's said you can be certain only of death and taxes.
People who know soccer say you can always be certain of Ramy Rajballie.
A four-year starter for the men's soccer team, Rajballie has distinguished himself as a player whose consistency is exceeded only by his dedication.
His play and his attitude are proof.
Imagine that for most of your life, you have worked at one job, striving to perfect and refine your skills. One day, you are called upon to switch currents, to abandon the familiar for the new.
A couple of weeks ago, Rajballie moved from his familiar role of right midfielder to the new role of left wing. He assumed this unfamiliar role, saying, "there really isn't much of an adjustment."
"Now there is less defending...I'm more concerned with attacking," Rajballie says.
Rajballie attributes his success in soccer to a strong foundation. His parents introduced him to the game when he was seven.
"At a young age, I learned the basics," Rajballie says. "I played a lot of club soccer which had a good development program."
The coaching Rajballie received during high school was instrumental in his progress. "Most kids usually have to wait for college to get excellent coaching," Rajballie notes. "I've had great coaching since I was 16."
The training Rajballie received in high school paid off in college. He got a starting assignment his freshman year.
Rajballie remembers his first goal: "It was against Hartwick. I hit it from 20, 25 yards out." The shot hit the right goalpost, bounced off the left goalpost and nicked the right post again before going in.
He also completed a hat trick against Princeton his freshman year.
The momentum Rajballie established his first collegiate season has continued throughout his Harvard career.
"Each year, I'm playing better, becoming more consistent, becoming stronger and a bit faster," Rajballie says. "I'm no longer muscled off the ball."
Rajballie does not like to talk about his personal achievements. Instead, he talks about consistency and about helping the team.
"Doing all the little things right," Rajballie explains. "Not missing tackles, making runs early, defending tenaciously."
After each game, Rajaballie says, a player must ask: "Did I create some chances for myself or my teammates?"
"Part of being an athlete is bringing out the best in yourself and in your teammates," Rajballie says.
A certain intensity characterizes Rajballie. He is the type of player who rises to the occasion and takes charge. "The best games are the tough games that push you to the limits," he notes.
This season has been disappointing one for the team, but Rajballie vows not to give up. "We have a very slim chance [for an NCAA berth]. We have to win all our games, especially Princeton. We have to blow them out."
If the team does not make it, Rajballie has one final wish.
"The last thing I want to do is beat Yale," he says. "Not because of the Harvard-Yale rivalry, but because they play defensively. They're ranked number one in New England, and I don't think they deserve to be."
Rajballie believes that soccer should be played by "attacking and taking risks."
Rajballie is concentrating in history and has completed his pre-med requirements as well. He hasn't decided on his post-graduate plans, except that he will continue to play soccer at some level.