As classes begin to rev up this weekend and the autumn cold begins to come in fast and strong, the fall club sports season is following suit. Tryouts are finishing up, games are starting, and the real competition has begun.
This weekend, Harvard men’s and women’s club tennis teams wrote the inaugural success story of the 2011 fall club sports season, winning the Battle of the Sections Tournament on the U.S Open courts at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens.
The Crimson teams flooded to New York on Friday, only one week after the conclusion of the U.S. Open, to face the top-16 club teams in the Northeast at the annual invitational round robin tournament.
Harvard’s men’s and women’s teams, who played as a joint team for this tournament, downed UVA 21-13 in the finals. The concluding matches were played on the Louis Armstrong and Grandstand courts, which proved to be a particularly memorable experience for some club members.
“Thinking of all the incredible matches that had taken place on the very courts we were playing on was absolutely surreal,” junior Cerianne Robertson said.
The New York tournament is unique for using the “World Team” tennis competition format, which featured singles, doubles, and mixed double matches to “put the emphasis on the team in what is traditionally viewed as an individualistic sport,” according to former team captain, senior Tarek Austin.
“Winning at NYC was a promising achievement for our team as we look ahead to Sectionals in October, and, if all goes well, Nationals in the Spring, in North Carolina,” Austin said.
Robertson, senior Louise Laciny and freshmen Mari Georgiadis and Tara Jain represented the women’s team, while Austin, senior Greg Leya, senior James Ong, junior Jake Dockterman, and senior Bryan Martin played for the men.
Both teams will head to Northeastern on Saturday to participate in the Tennis Beanpot Tournament, where they hope to champion, this time, over other Boston teams.
Former Crimson wideout Mike Cook '10 is playing for the Herlev Rebels in Denmark this season—one of a number of Crimson football alums continuing their careers around the world.
The call of the football field has kept life in a cubicle at bay for a few recent Harvard graduates.
While some, like Collin Zych ’11—who made it all the way to the Dallas Cowboys' final cut—had their pro dreams recently put on hold, a few others have taken up pro careers at varying levels around the world.
Former Crimson offensive guard Brent Osborne ’11 has been working out with the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad for the 2011 season. After initially being cut in training camp, Osborne was recently resigned by the Seahawks.
The seven-man practice squad of an NFL team is essentially a scout team that runs plays for the starters to practice against. For example, Osborne and his offensive teammates prep the Seattle defense for their upcoming offensive opponent.
“I’m doing everything in practice all the other guys are doing, just with fewer reps,” Osborne said.
Current quarterback Collier Winters ’12 attributes Osborne’s success to his dedication and gusto.
“He really led by example,” Winters said. “Every day he would show up and put everything into it.”
Over the summer, Osborne stayed in Cambridge to work out with Crimson strength coaches to prepare for the NFL, along with former players such as Zych and Marco Iannuzzi ’11.
The offensive lineman hopes in the future to move beyond the practice squad and earn a place on the team.
“I’m trying to get better every day, and in the future compete for a spot on the roster,” he said.
Harvard football coach Tim Murphy said that senior linebacker Blaise Deal would definitely miss tomorrow's home opener against Brown a week after taking a hit to the knee against Holy Cross last Saturday.
While it’s still not clear how long Deal will be out, it appears he will likely miss an extended period of time.
Deal—who also missed most of last season with a knee injury—tweeted in the hours after the game that “I don’t think I will ever play another sport as long as I live.”
A tweet two days later also seemed to indicate that a return might be unlikely: “Today was the first day in like 10 years that I've woken up and not been a football player.”
Captain Alex Gedeon, who is also Deal’s roommate, said that the senior linebacker has begun physical therapy and is working towards a recovery. But according to Gedeon, though Deal's loss is a significant one for the team, he remains an important presence for the Crimson.
“He’s been incredible," Gedeon said. "He just keeps a positive attitude ... He’s definitely one of the emotional leaders on the team, and to see how he’s handled this situation is inspiring.”
The team remains confident that it can fill the void that Deal leaves while he recovers from his injury. In addition to Gedeon and junior Bobby Schneider, two other starting linebackers, juniors Alex Norman and Josh Boyd—both of whom appeared in all 10 games last season—will play at the linebacker spot while Deal is out, according to Gedeon.
This weekend is a big one for Harvard football. I’m not just talking about normal-sized big, but football-player big.
On Friday, the Crimson takes on Brown in its first league game of the season. This game will be key in terms of gaining momentum and setting up an Ivy League title run.
But before we get to this matchup, here is a round-up of the events that led up to this weekend’s contests:
Last Saturday, Harvard opened its season against Holy Cross. Despite gaining a lead of 14-3 in the first quarter, the Crimson quickly gave the Crusaders a way back into the game. Covers were blown and Holy Cross completed several long-distance passes. After Holy Cross took the lead 17-14 after a one-yard touchdown run, the team never looked back, scoring 22 consecutive points to push the final score to 30-22. The Crusaders’ win was an upset, as preseason rankings showed Harvard to be on top. Whoops, my mistake, I meant these rankings.
The Crimson’s loss wasn’t the only shocker last weekend. Penn kept its status as the “Social Ivy” by making friends with Lafayette when the Quakers generously rolled over in a 37-12 Leopard blowout. Penn—the preseason favorite to win the Ivy League—blew its eight-game winning streak, losing to Lafayette’s backup quarterback.
While the Ivy’s two top-ranked teams lost several points of self-esteem, some of the lower-seeded squads came out ready to battle. Cornell, who tied with Princeton for the Ivy League's lowest rank, came from a 13-0 deficit to beat Bucknell, 24-13. Touchdown passes of 87 and 64 yards were key moments in the Big Red’s victory. Dartmouth also came out ready, as the Big Green crushed Colgate, 37-20. Dartmouth running back Nick Schwieger came up huge as he ran for two touchdowns and had a total of 175 yards.
Preseason middle-of-the-league teams Yale and Brown pulled out victories against Georgetown and Stony Brook, respectively, while Columbia lost to Fordham. As the Bulldogs handed the Hoyas their first loss of the season, they simultaneously forgot how to count to 100 as can be seen from this pie chart.
When the Bears came back from a 10-point deficit and beached the Seawolves, 21-20, in New York on Saturday night, they proved that they could win close ones. I guess they realized that they couldn’t count the game as pass/fail. Meanwhile, the commute across the River proved to be too much for the Lions who gave in, 21-14, to their newly-found cross water rivals.
Princeton also lost to Lehigh , 34-22—this was not much of a surprise, as the Tigers’ record last season came out to 1-9. They hope to rebound this weekend when the Ivy League season officially begins.
In a new weekly feature, The Crimson will be tracking the successes (and potential failures) of some of Harvard’s most successful graduates not to use their Harvard degrees. While a tour through professional sports is not exactly a who’s who of Harvard alumni, a few athletes have taken their game to the next level. From Jeremy Lin to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Crimson maintains a presence outside of the labs and law offices of the world.
Our alumni tracker this week has (deservingly so) turned into the Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 MVP tracker. The Bills quarterback lit up the scoreboard again yesterday in a 38-35 nail-biter in Buffalo.
Not only did Fitzpatrick turn in a 264-yard, three-touchdown performance, the Buffalo signal caller fired a touchdown pass to David Nelson on fourth down with 14 seconds left in the final quarter to put the Bills in front for good in a back-and-forth affair.
The real story, though, is Fitzpatrick’s sudden success after a decidedly average first seven years in the NFL. With a career 75.1 passer rating, Fitzpatrick, until the last two weeks, was best known for his impressive, nine-minute, 48-correct-answer sprint through the Wonderlic Test, football’s measure of mental aptitude, and his educational background.