A Man of Many Talents
Take a trip over to Kirkland H-42, where Neil Phillips lives with a football player, a basketball player, a two-sport athlete and a dog called Marley, named after you-know-who.
The combination probably isn't great for the room's aroma, but it says a lot about the kind of person Phillips has been at Harvard.
He played a lot of basketball, starting for the Crimson at forward for four seasons. In his sophomore year, he added football. Then came the struggles involved with adjusting to two sports and two seasons.
And he listens to a lot of Marley--both man and mutt.
"He's made my life at Harvard memorable, to say the least," says roommate Mike Gielen, the basketball player. "No matter who you are, once you get to know him, you're going to end up liking him--and probably liking him a lot."
The people at a local casting agency liked Phillips enough to put him and roommate Dave Kuhn--the football player--into a Miller Genuine Draft commercial that should come out in the next few weeks.
Unfortunately for Phillips, it wasn't exactly Miller Time yet. The commercial was filmed during exam period, and Phillips had four finals and a take-home.
No problem. He simply studied during the rooftop barbecue scene--and now he's anxious for the commercial to air so he can prove to everyone that he did do academic work at Harvard.
"If I had to do anything different, obviously I think I would have studied more," says Phillips, who ran into academic difficulties his sophomore year. "But I think 95 percent of the people here wish they had studied more. I made decisions along the way and now, even in the end, they seem like the right decisions."
Don't mess with something that works--that's why Phillips has stuck with his rooming group (although Marley is a recent addition) and the football-basketball combination for three years.
And don't try to fix it if it's not broken yet--advice Phillips wishes the football team would have followed last fall.
After winning the Ivy title in 1988--the self-proclaimed highlight of Phillips' experience at Harvard--the Crimson gridders suffered through a disappointing 2-8 season.
"A couple of losses and then you rush around trying to make decisions and answer questions that don't really need to be answered," says Phillips. "You move people around, and there's a losing season."
If Phillips regrets anything, it's not winning an Ivy League basketball title. But he has found few flaws in his four years at Harvard.
"I think I know myself a whole lot better now than I did when I came to Harvard," he says.
Phillips is more than just a basketball player, a football player, a two-sport athlete and man who loves Marley--both man and mutt.
"Neil has been my best friend," Gielen says. "He's someone I can always depend on as a crutch, or as a partner."
Get Phillips and his Kirkland H-42 buddies together, and they're easy to please. A game of rock, paper, scissors will keep them entertained.
But after today, the football player, the basketball player, and the two-sport athlete will be leaving Harvard, and Phillips, and moving on.
Marley, however, is sticking around for the long haul.