STAIRWAY TO EVAN: Techies Can't Help Ruggiero

The following is an open letter:

To The Computer Commandos of Cambridge:

While the Harvard community has certainly enjoyed the benefits of your recent web creations—such as facemash.com, thefacebook.com, crimsonhookups.com and, most recently, crimsonrumormill.com—your programming skills haven’t been as prompt lately as some of the Crimson faithful may have desired them to be.

That’s because yesterday, the Harvard women’s hockey team’s co-captain and defenseman, Angela Ruggiero, was knocked out of ESPN.com’s best female athlete bracket.

“Maybe you can get a computer science major or someone to do something and get some more votes for me,” Ruggiero said on Sunday evening, when she was informed that she was likely going to lose to Barb Lindquist, the world’s No. 1 triathlete.

Now Ruggiero may have been joking when she issued this statement, but surely something—though unethical—could have been done to put her over Lindquist. After all, Ruggiero clobbered jockey Julie Krone by over 80 percent in the opening round. And other Harvard female athletes hadn’t lost faith as the voting neared its end that Ruggiero could still eke out a victory.

“She’s the best player at what she does, so hopefully that will give her some advantage in the voting,” said women’s basketball co-captain Hana Peljto on Sunday evening.

And Ruggiero’s teammates were doing all that they could to garner her some extra votes.

“We had sent the voting link to various e-mail groups and other clubs that we’re a part of,” junior forward Nicole Corriero said.

However, such efforts fell short, and Lindquist easily coasted to the quarterfinals where she now faces Lynn Hill, a world-renowned rock climber.

But couldn’t you kings of the keyboard have changed all this? Could you imagine the buzz around the Yard had made it to the Elite Eight, where Lindquist now stands? Or the wonderful anti-Canadian rallies that would have spawned had Hill’s opponent—a member of the 2002 Canadian Olympic team—in the Round of 16 won?

In what would have been an epic rematch of the Winter Olympic gold medal game from two years ago, Ruggiero could have faced Hayley Wickenheiser, who won the MVP during the Salt Lake City games after the Canucks beat the U.S. team for the championship. But alas, you wizards of the web fell short, and also didn’t ensure her victory.

“When people are trying to debate who is the best women’s hockey player in the world today, most people would say it’s between Angela and Hayley,” said Corriero, a Canadian herself who chose to go cross the border when asked to pick her favorite. “I do think that Angela would win because, No. 1 she’s played college hockey in America and, No. 2 she’s just a better hockey player.”

But did the citizens of this great continent ever get a chance to choose which player—and in essence, which country—was better? No.

However, assuming Ruggiero had made it to this round against Wickenheiser, how far could she have gone in this bracket? Surely Ruggiero’s countrymen and women would have rallied to support her and send her into the semi-finals. Once there, she would likely face Mia Hamm, who is currently going head-to-head against gymnast Carly Patterson. Talk about a bout of Olympic heavyweights.

But alas, this potential was not to be. And though the people may have spoken and voted Ruggiero out, why couldn’t some of those intellects of the internet have done a little something to help out their classmate? Matt Mahan may believe in a better Harvard, but I believe in a Harvard that looks out for its own.

—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at erjohns@fas.harvard.edu. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.