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Crimson Athletes Spend Summer Break Honing Skills

Mother of Perl
Alina A Hooper

Senior pitcher Max Perlman, shown here in earlier action, dominated the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, posting a 1.92 ERA in 51.1 innings of work. Perlman was one of many Harvard athletes who spent their summer competing and preparing for their respective sport this year.

“How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Everyone’s favorite third-grade assignment.

And while we may be wistful for the days when we could write about summer camp or lying on the beach, Harvard students seem to get a bit more out of vacation these days—and Crimson athletes are no exception. Whether on the pitch, field, or pool deck, Harvard standouts left their mark all across the world this summer.

“If you’re serious about baseball, it’s expected that...you should play summer ball,” said junior pitcher Brent Suter, who logged a league-high 49.2 innings in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League in his home state of Ohio. At the Division I level, the same holds true for numerous sports.

Six female Crimson swimmers avoided the offseason letdown by competing in the US National Championships, and two of the athletes—co-captain Kate Mills and junior Meghan Leddy—quickly dispelled any notion that the event was just a training exercise. The pair notched top-30 finishes in the 200-meter butterfly and 200 backstroke, respectively, earning invites to the US Olympic Trials.

And they weren’t the only stars to shine on the water. Half a world away, Harvard rowers took Belarus by storm, bringing home hardware from the 2010 U-23 World Championships. Assisted by Crimson men’s lightweight coach Linda Muri, three American women’s boats took gold at the four-day event, and co-captain Liv Coffey figured prominently in the bow seat of the victorious eight-woman boat.

“It’s always really exciting traveling with the team and representing the US,” said Coffey, who joined the American team in Prague last year as well.

But despite the accolades for Coffey, Leddy, and Mills, the success of summer is not judged on honors alone. As the crew captain noted, the daunting national team camp, which ran from June 1 to the end of July with just one off day, proved invaluable in maintaining the team members’ skills.

“There’s no substitute for rowing...so if you can never stop working out, you’re at your best,” Coffey said. “It’s great if you can maintain a level [of fitness] and push really hard when you have to in the spring.”

And sometimes, the victory is not even staying in peak form, but just being able to return to it. Senior pitcher Max Perlman garnered his own fair share of summer honors—earning a place on the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Team for his work with the Wareham Gatemen—but for the Harvard right-hander, the more important accomplishment was proving that he could once again dominate on the mound after elbow surgery.

“I just needed to play. It had been so long since I had pitched a full season,” Perlman said. “The Cape helped me find my rhythm and find my mechanics.”

Perlman certainly had his arsenal of pitches working, as he quieted some of the best hitting prospects in college baseball to the tune of a 1.92 ERA. The Crimson ace fanned 42 opposing hitters in 51.1 innings, good for fifth in the league, and, perhaps more impressively, walked just six batters—a sign of greatly improved command.

“I think I got a feel for all my pitches that I didn’t have initially coming back from surgery,” he said.

If Perlman can maintain this form throughout the year, Harvard may have a formidable 1-2 punch atop its rotation, as Suter found equal success in his Great Lakes outings.

The junior hurler put up staggering numbers en route to being named the GLL’s pitcher of the year and top pitching prospect.

Suter went undefeated over the summer, leading all pitchers with a 1.27 ERA and 47 strikeouts, simply gaudy numbers compared to his sophomore season.

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