Harvard Athletes and Spring Break Shenanigans

Published by Cayla C. Calderwood on March 23, 2012 at 3:12AM

Long walks around Legoland and Disney World, intense blowgun fights, bike rides along Venice Beach and crashing in Tommy Lee Jones’ private barn—perhaps not how you would have expected Crimson athletes to spend their spring breaks. But when we caught up with some of Harvard’s spring season athletes, we found that most of them were able to enjoy a mixture of business and pleasure over last week’s recess.

While crew endured two-a-day practices on the Charles, many Crimson teams chose to compete on the road. Men’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s water polo and softball all hit up California for the break, while the polo team and baseball chose to take advantage of the Sunshine State. And that’s just to name a few.

And when they weren’t busy slamming balls over nets or deep into centerfield, most of the teams kept pretty entertained.

“We had two days off in the middle of the week,” said softball’s sophomore infielder Kasey Lange. “We went to the beach a lot and got to ride bikes along Venice Beach.”

The men’s volleyball team, also in California, chose to employ their free time in a slightly different manner.

“For $8.39 we got twelve lengths of PVC pipe, half inch in diameter, the perfect diameter for blowgun fights with NERF whistle darts,” explained men’s volleyball sophomore Nick Madden. The team divided Madden’s California home by floor and faced off in a 7-on-7 battle to the death (well technically to the second death as each player got two lives). The game “obviously” ranged outdoors and indoors with “window screens optional, so those came off pretty early.”

But although it may seem like just fun and games, NERF gun fights are clearly serious business for Madden.  “There’s a lot of strategy involved. Headshots were frowned upon but allowed…. We also had additional backup weapons in case it came to close combat. Nightfinders were a primary backup weapon in close quarters because they have a little scope on it with a red dot that you can aim on opponents’ faces.”

And when they weren’t hitting each other with NERF guns the volleyball boys were cheering on their fellow Harvard athletes.

Men’s volleyball and the softball team were both playing at Northridge on March 10th so the guys showed up to cheer the girls on to a 5-2 victory.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country the baseball team was being dragged out of bed by its coach to go to…Disney World?

Actually they were watching spring training, but once that was over they spent an hour and a half driving around Disney World looking for a restaurant to eat breakfast.

“Eventually we ended right back up where we started, so we just ate at some fast food place by Legoland,” freshman  Mike Martin said. “Then our coach decided we should walk around Legoland for another hour before we went to play.”

While the baseball team got a peek at Disney World, several members of the men’s and women’s polo team were getting an exclusive look at Tommy Lee Jones’ private barn.

“He is the benefactor for the Harvard polo team,” sophomore Danielle Lussi explained. “So every year he donates money or some of his older horses, and every year he invites some of us to his ranch to play or for training.”

While in the past only the men’s team has gone, this year both teams sent representatives, so Lussi was joined by Jane Amero, Marina Lehner, Albany Mulholland, and Shawn DeMartino staying in the grooms’ quarters and riding the famous actor’s horses.

“He has two very simple barns,” reported Lussi, “not ostentatious, not elaborate, just very efficient.”

The team also got a chance to watch quite a bit of professional polo, including some matches played by Adolfo Cambiaso, currently the top-ranked polo player in the world.

But unfortunately, the break is over, and Harvard student athletes must exchange NERF guns for books, bike rides to Venice Beach for bike rides to the Quad, and hours spent in Legoland for hours in Lamont.

Thankfully, most students can return with a spring in their step and enough memories to tide them over until summertime.