She's Tough Under Fire
Water Polo's Stacey Moran
Stacey Moran is probably the toughest 5-ft., 6 1/2-in. water polo player you would ever want to meet.
The Kirkland House junior has overcome nagging injuries to become one of the Crimson's leading scorers this year.
As a seven-year-old living in New City, N.Y., she began swimming on local AAU teams and kept with it for a while. "I had the same coach until I was 17, then I stopped swimming for two years, then I started swimming in college," Moran says.
Moran originally wanted to apply to Georgetown. But if it wasn't for a request from a family member, she might have never applied to Harvard.
"My grandfather was really sick in my junior year [of high school] and he died that year," Moran says. "He said, `Just apply to Harvard, and you'll get in, and you'll go there.' I applied here just for him, because he asked me to. I never thought about it again."
But she got accepted, and soon packed her bags for Cambridge.
"It appealed to me as a whole, the ambiance of Harvard," Moran says. "I loved it, I thought it was beautiful."
Moran was on the swim team her freshman year, swimming sprint freestyle races. She also played some water polo when swimming season ended. Moran had a slight advantage as a Harvard freshman because her AAU swim team used to play some water polo.
"I played maybe three games in my life--but with no rules," Moran says. "It was different. There was no `ball under', no rules at all. You just had to get the ball in the goal."
The injury bug plagued her early in her Harvard athletic career. She was out for a time with a broken nose suffered in the national women's water polo tournament in 1986, and missed the entire 1987 season due to major abdominal surgery.
"It killed me not to be able to play," Moran says. "I tried a couple of times, but it was just too much of a chance."
Coming back from the surgery was especially hard, because she couldn't get much exercise and conditioning at all. So the Folklore and Mythology pre-med decided to exercise her mind in Europe.
"I took this last semester off and went to Ireland," Moran says. "It was so much fun. I met up with Tara [Gustilo] in Spain."
And now, she's back, and better than ever. She is one of Harvard's fiercest drivers and very efficient at putting the ball away.
"I love to shoot," Moran says. "But a lot of times when I drive, I shoot. It's a great feeling to score."
"She's a star," says Tri-Captain Leslie Barbi. "When she's driving, there'll be two or three defenders pouncing on her. Usually you want to get a kickout. Stacey usually gets the goal."
Moran is also one of the better defenders on the team, and a contributor to the Harvard pressure defense.
"I enjoy defense a lot," Moran says. "In every other sport I've played, that was probably my strong point."
But what is this polo player's secret to her success? Her mental approach to the game would be the correct answer.
"Some days when you're in the mood to play, you play great, and other days, when you don't feel like getting wet, or getting in there, you're not as aware," Moran says.
Moran does not swim on the collegiate level any more. Her only sport is water polo.
"I think it's an ideal sport for me because I love ball sports, I love team sports, and I love swimming, so it's great," Moran says. "I've played a lot of sports, and this is my favorite one."
Moran and the rest of the Crimson are looking forward to their greatest challenge to date--the Eastern Tournament. "I'm really excited. We should do well," Moran says. "Slippery Rock is going to be really good. They'll be our hardest team to beat, but there are going to be a couple of teams that are pretty comparable to us."
Coming into the weekend, Moran is questionable to start for the Crimson. Last weekend in the MIT tournament, she tore a ligament in her right hand, her shooting hand.
"I had it looked at by the trainers, so they're pretty sure it's not a fracture, which is good," Moran says. "Basically I have to get it whirlpooled and iced every day."
Moran will play, depending on whether the swelling goes down. And if it doesn't? She'll probably play anyway.