Urke’s Rhythm Extends Beyond Athletics

Holiday T-urke-y
Emily C. Wong

Freshman Lauren Urke, pictured above in previous action, came to Harvard with two strengths: soccer and music. Although she dons a Crimson jersey, she also brought her violin to continue both passions.

It’s unusual for a defender to dribble all the way up the soccer field and score a goal or give an assist, but what’s even more unusual about freshman Lauren Urke is that she’s just as talented with her hands as she is with her feet.

Urke started playing violin in kindergarten, around the same time she started playing soccer, and has been an adept violinist ever since.

“[She’s] one of my best students,” said Steve Stenson, Urke’s private instructor for the last 13 years. “She has a very good work ethic—she works really, really hard.”

Urke took private lessons and was also involved in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony in her Minnesota hometown.

“She’s obviously very passionate about her music, which is awesome,” sophomore goalie Jessica Wright said. “She plays violin as she plays soccer: to the best of her abilities.”

In addition to her private violin lessons twice a week and symphony rehearsal once a week, Urke put in an average of five additional hours of individual practice time.

With two time-demanding activities, conflicts between a practice, game, rehearsal, or concert were inevitable.

Urke’s toughest decisions came when she had to decide whether she was going to let down her soccer teammates or let down her orchestra.

But, when it came down to it, soccer was always her number one priority.

“Violin has always been something that I love to do in my free time,” Urke said. “I treated it as something extra. I never thought of myself as being a performing musician.”

Urke, who was named Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week on Sept. 12, has tallied one goal and two assists so far for the Harvard women’s soccer team.

Urke decided to hold off on joining a Harvard orchestra or music group until the spring when she’s in her offseason.

“I originally didn’t even bring my violin with me to college, which was very bad,” Urke said. “I had my mom bring it up for me over Parents Weekend ... I missed it!”

The Crimson players had only heard Urke’s musical talent through a YouTube video of her playing Édouard Lalo’s fifth movement of “Symphonie Espagnole,” a very complicated piece that took her two months of practicing four hours a day to learn.

When Urke was finally reunited with her violin, she gave a live mini-concert for her teammates in the locker room after practice last week.

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