Rain has cancelled the softball game against Massasoit. The cold and wet has driven most of the team's players back into their rooms, but Ellen "Sprout" Jakovic-the Crimson's best pitcher and hitter-remains at the ITT to work on the Nautilus.
After starting for four years on Harvard's softball and soccer teams, Jakovic works as hard toward improvement as when she first tried out as an uncertain freshman.
Not a talkative person, Jakovic sets an example for the young team with her outstanding performance in center field, on the mound and at the plate. "Ellen is just amazing," says her teammate and co-captain Drane Boteler. "The coach never has to tell her to hustle, she just comes to practice, doesn't say much and works as hard as she can."
Even after she suffered a stress-fractured hip during the soccer season, the Eliot House resident diligently trudged across the river to lift upper body weights throughout the winter.
Jakovic's whole athletic career has been a series of challenges since her high school teammates nicknamed her "Sprout". At 5'3", she's usually the smallest player on her team.
Injuries, new sports, and new positions have enabled her to maintain her enthusiasm for sports in situations where many Harvard athletes have turned apathetic.
"A lot of athletes stop learning," she says. "They think they're not getting anything out of a sport anymore."
Jakovic believes athletes always learn from their experience on the field.
"It teaches you how to deal with frustration," she explains, adding." You can always learn more about a sport."
Because she learns so well, Jakovic can adapt to almost any position on the field. She began her softball career in high school as a catcher ("Why,. I don't know"), moved to the infield as a Harvard freshman, then developed into an excellent center field over her sophomore and junior seasons.
Finally, in her senior year, she has learned how to pitch.
"I had never thought about pitching before, but the team really needed pitchers, and I guess the coaches like my motion," she explains.
Over the course at the season Jakovic's self-taught pitching has been the best on the squad. She has won three, lost only one and owns the only. Harvard shutout, a 10-0 whitewash of Cornell. Still, she admits to sometimes "still feeling like an outfielder out there."
Jakovic's natural ability has always carried through athletic transitions. Coming into last week's Ivy League Tournament. Jakovic was slugging an incredible 624. She pushed that close to 700 with four hits against Yale, including a grand-slam. That kind of hitting can't be pumped out of a Nautilus.
Next year Jakovic will hang up her spikes for good, traveling to California to attend Stanford Law School. She ensured admission to prestigious grad schools by keeping a Group II average for four years, even with continued athletic commitments. She will miss playing sports next year, but, after all, she has so much to learn.