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The competition is over, the winners have been decided, and the Harvard women have returned from Philadelphia; but the valuable experiences that this past weekend at the Ivy League Championships has brought will remain with the women for a long time.
More important than any scores or any results are the individuals who contributed to the weekend's competition. What they did and how they handled the successes and the disappointments of the events in which they participated are the "inside stories" that give the weekend its long range value.
The Real Story
Carole Kleinfelder, coach of Harvard women's basketball, saw this personal side of the weekend. She was pleased with her team's performance, but she said there was a more important aspect to the weekend. "I learned a lot about my players," she said. And this understanding of the individuals that make up a team cannot be overlooked.
The Crimson hoopsters finished second, losing badly to a taller, smoother Princeton team. One might think that loss destroyed the whole tournament for the Harvard women, but if we turn to the individuals, we can see how valuable the tournament was, in spite of the loss.
Crimson captain Katherine Fulton found the tournament a great success, regardless of how they did, because she said there was "a real feeling of togetherness among the team members."
She said last year the team was not together at all, and it ruined the season for her. "I was almost ready to give up basketball last year," she said, "because of the poor attitudes the team members had."
But this year, there was a very tight friendship that brought the players together. There was so strong a feeling that Sue Williams, the only senior on the team, turned to her teammates after the Princeton game and said, with tears in her eyes, "You'll go a long way, and I am proud to be a part of this team."
A dejected Ellen Hart admitted she was disappointed over the loss to Princeton, but she said, "We still had a great time, and that's what it's all about."
These spirited individuals looked past the statistical results and found the value of just participating, the value of team cooperation.
Perhaps the swimmers exemplify this individual attitude even more strongly.
In the Ivy Championships, many of the swimmers were up against competition that was far superior to even the best of their abilities. Yet many of these women, with no hope of obtaining the glory of medal-winning, understood their job as team members, and went out and swam better times than they had ever before swum.
Swimmers like Paula Bagger, Sue Vasallo and Debbie Van Ryn had little hope of beating many other swimmers but still swam their hardest, and in many cases picked up an important point or two in the consolation heats.
Their teammate, freestyler Sharon Beckman, has been overshadowed all year by superstars Jane Fayer and Maura Costin, but she continued to perform well throughout the tournament.
Why did they all punish themselves when the personal glory was so far away? Costin, medal-winning Crimson swimmer, said it was because they understood "the most important thing is being a part of the team."
Costin said she swam five individual events and only one relay this weekend. If she had swum one or two more relays, the women on the relay teams might have gotten medals, and more of the women would have then won that glory.
But she said that no one ever complained about her heavy participation in individual events because the individuals on the team are not so concerned with personal recognition, "just with doing their best."
Perhaps this all sounds a bit idealistic, sort of like the way the members of that "perfect team" ought to feel. But don't be skeptical of the women. This past weekend in Philadelphia was a great example of their attitudes.
If you doubt their unselfish nature and their ability to look past the statistics, come and watch them compete some time. You'll see how real these individuals are.
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