Any athlete will tell you that it takes a lot to compete at a varsity level in a Division I program, beyond the obvious time commitment that practice, weight-lifting, and conditioning require. A Harvard athlete also has the unique and rigorous responsibility of balancing athletics and academics, not to mention the wide array of extracurricular and social opportunities the university has to offer.
That sounds like enough.
But imagine being a dual-sport athlete—double the commitment, double the time, double the practice, and double the pressure. Most would never give the idea any thought.
But junior Anne Carroll “AC” Ingersoll, a member of the Crimson women’s volleyball team, cannot count herself among the daunted after taking on the challenge of one of Harvard’s oldest, most demanding, and most celebrated sports: heavyweight crew.
Combining water and court, boat and net, the California native is proving how versatile a Harvard student and athlete can be.
“Being in season once a semester just wasn’t enough,” the junior said, laughing. “There’s something that I get out of athletics...that I just don’t get anywhere else...I was ready to learn a new skill.”
Ingersoll’s cousin, Jennie Peterson ’10, walked on to the heavyweight crew team as a freshman and rowed all four years for the Crimson.
“[Jennie] always raved about her experience on the crew team,” Ingersoll said. “She has been working on me since the day I found out I got into Harvard.”
Peterson’s pressure finally paid off, and Ingersoll went to Florida as a part of crew’s annual trip to begin her formal training.
“During the time we spent in Florida, [Ingersoll] immersed herself immediately into what we were doing and how we are trying to row,” Harvard coach Liz O’Leary said. “She was outstanding.”
Unlike other walk-ons, Ingersoll comes ready-made with the seasoned experience and leadership of a varsity athlete, serving as team captain in the most recent of her three years on the volleyball team.
“Anytime that an upperclassmen, even with a little experience, joins our program, they bring maturity,” O’Leary said. “AC certainly brings that level of maturity...but she’s also very humble about the fact that she isn’t nearly as experienced as everyone around her. She can laugh at her mistakes and...is just very coachable.”
But one aspect of the sport that the 6’2” junior does not need to be taught is one that is important throughout athletics: teamwork.
“After playing for so long, I know how to be on a team. I know what that means, and I know the kind of commitment that it takes,” Ingersoll said. “I think the ability to be on a team is not something that everyone knows, but I’ve been lucky enough to experience it, and to understand all the work that goes into it but also the rewards that come from it.”
“AC loves her teammates,” echoed newly elected volleyball captain, Sandra Lynne Fryhofer. “She makes even the most difficult situations light-hearted...and has a competitiveness that you can’t teach.”