Every fall, the media has its annual love affair with football, and action on the gridiron dominates coverage from coast to coast. With men’s soccer opening the year as the highest-ranked fall team, finding gender balance in our sports coverage can be even more difficult. But the women of the Ivy League are fighting back, notching noteworthy accomplishments from the pitch to the track. So gather ’round the water cooler folks, and let’s take a look at what’s happening in the Ivy League this week.
Harvard’s highest honor this week did not go to an athlete at all, but rather to an administrator for a lifetime of devotion to sports. The Crimson’s Patricia Henry, the athletic department’s senior associate director and founder of the Harvard Radcliffe Foundation for Women’s Athletics, received the ECAC Katherine Lay award yesterday for her work over the past 30 years. The award is reserved for “someone of demonstrated leadership ability, a proponent of women's issues, and a role model for women coaches and administrators.” Henry’s inspirational work has paved the way for many of Harvard’s female athletes and those all across the country.
And perhaps this effect is best demonstrated by the number of up-and-coming programs in the Ivy League, like the women’s golf team at Dartmouth. Although the young squad has a ways to go before it finds itself among the Ancient Eight elite on the links, the team did post its lowest round ever en route to a team-record 979 over the weekend at the Yale Invitational. Freshman Sarah Knapp led the way for the Big Green with a 26th-place finish, but Dartmouth finished ninth overall and last among the four Ivy schools in attendance.
Rookies have made an impact on a few more successful teams as well, including freshman Hannah Balleza of the Cornell field hockey team. The first-year attack powered the Big Red to a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Columbia last Friday, keeping Cornell undefeated in conference play. Balleza tallied a goal and an assist against the Lions, placing her second on the team in both categories. Her four goals have come on just 10 shots this season, and this efficient style of play is a big reason why the squad is 5-2 to start the season.
Columbia shouldn’t feel too bad about dropping the overtime heartbreaker, though. After all, one of the Lion’s alumnae just earned a chance to perform on a much bigger stage: the 2012 Olympics. Lisa Stublic, a 2005 Columbia graduate, placed ninth in her first-ever marathon, crossing the line in Berlin with a time of 2:33.42. Stublic, who will represent Croatia at the games, eclipsed the Olympic “A” cut by three seconds while shattering her country’s mark by nearly six minutes. While Stublic is new to the marathon distance, she was no stranger to dominance in the Ivy League, where she recorded one of the 10 fastest times ever (17:10) at the Heptagonal Cross-Country Championships during her senior season with the Lions.