PARTING SHOT: Sports Writer Learns Lessons on Writing, History, Friendship

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment when writing sports for The Crimson no longer had anything to do with sports. Maybe it never did.

I, quite literally, stumbled across the Sports Board after a tremendous exercise in freshman stupidity turned me into one of those statistics that DAPA stamps on the Nalgene bottles they love to give out, and my mother bluntly declared, “You need a hobby.”

With this sage advice in mind, I trekked over to 14 Plympton Street and listened to members of various boards give their spiels before deciding on Sports, mostly because the chairs at the time seemed like—as the expression goes—“pretty chill dudes.”

Four years later, many of my best memories of Harvard stem from my involvement in Crimson Sports, rivaled only by recollections of my time in Kirkland House—the other cult I’m in.

But the moments that I remember with the most clarity and fondness are moments in which sport served as a conduit, rather than an end in itself, for uniting individuals who would permanently alter each other’s lives in ways they never could have imagined.

***

I remember taking the T to Boston College for the women’s hockey team’s Beanpot matchup with the Eagles during freshman year. I went with Jonathan Lehman ’08, who was the sports chair at the time.

The game was a triple-overtime thriller, one of the longest contests in college history, and a devastating 4-3 Harvard loss, but what stands out most from that night is the cab ride back.

Eager freshman that I was, I furiously typed out the first few paragraphs of my recap and showed them to my fellow traveler. Lehman looked over my (in retrospect) serviceable but average copy, gave it a nod of approval, and made a few suggestions.

It was a pretty unremarkable moment, but it marked the first advice I’d receive from a person who taught me more about writing—not sportswriting, but writing—than any professor I’ve come across at Harvard.

***

I remember sitting across from Harvard baseball coach Joe Walsh in his office at the athletic complex in early March. We had just wrapped up a 45-minute interview for a feature I was writing about him for The Crimson’s annual baseball/softball supplement.

Walsh, who former Crimson writer Martin Bell correctly called a “walking embodiment of the mystical fabric that connects the games of baseball and life,” has a uniquely thoughtful, eloquent, and folksy way of talking that makes him a dream quote for any reporter.

On that March afternoon, he was his usual self, filling my voice recorder with a gripping narrative that brought his long career in baseball to life better than I ever could.

But it’s the conversation we had after the official, sports-related interview—the one that exists in no record outside of my own memory—that remains most salient in my consciousness.

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