Academics or Athletics: A Question of Priorities


Sue Field wanted to be a Duck. An Oregon Duck.

"I was thinking of going to one of the jock schools out West, maybe the University of Oregon," the leading scorer on the Crimson field hockey team says. "I've always considered myself an athlete, not a scholar."

But the lure of the Harvard name and visits to Cambridge and Oregon persuaded the junior psych major to go north, not west, from her home in Princeton, N.J.

At Harvard, Field devotes much of her time to athletics--but that's nothing new. She grew up with four active brothers and has spent most of her life following every kind of sport.

A football fan as long as she can remember, Field spent hours watching every game on television and playing ball with the neighborhood gang.


Field doesn't disguise it--she's a tomboy. "I don't really believe in femininity," Field says. "I just believe in being myself. Whether that's feminine or not, I don't know."

"I don't mind being considered just a jock. I know that I'm reasonably intelligent, and people can think what they want about you. Besides," Field adds, "they probably will anyway."

If she is just a jock, she's versatile one. Field excels in many sports besides field hockey. One of them is basketball, the game she once considered her first love.

But varsity basketball at Harvard has humbled her. "I sat on the bench my first two years and I'll admit I wasn't too happy about it. I think I've come to realize my limitations. I've tended to rate myself a little too highly in the past," she says.

Now, however, the high-scoring winger tends to downplay her field hockey talents. She denies having any finesse, and complains that her stickwork is below par.

But somehow Field still scores. The secret lies not only in the hours she devotes to training and practice, but also in her hustle on the field and her nose for the ball. In addition she credits her improvement to new Crimson coach Edie MacAusland.

"Edie gives you confidence," Field says, adding that MacAusland "reinforces you when you do something right--she doesn't just scream at you when you screw up.

And," she grins, I need reinforcement."

MacAusland praises Field's offensive talent calling her "one of my strongest and most consistant forwards. You can't help seeing the ability there," she added. "It's not hard to encourage it."

That encouragement has apparently motivated Field, for she now wields the bulk of the team's attack. The stickwomen have had trouble translating their offensive skills into shots and goals, but Field is an exception.