Head of Harvard Golf Gets Late Start to Sport

Courtesy of Bonnie Hu

After captaining the Crimson’s basketball squad during his time as an undergraduate, Fred Schernecker ’89-’90 turned to the links as Harvard’s director of golf where he serves as both an administrator and a mentor.

After spending most of his life on the basketball court, it wasn’t until after his Harvard graduation that Fred Schernecker ’89-’90 graced the greens with his presence. Now, as the Crimson’s director of golf, Schernecker has represented the Harvard golf program for the past 13  years.

As a Harvard student, Schernecker played for the Crimson from the 1985-86 season until he captained the 1989-90 season, missing the 1987-88 campaign to study at the London School of Economics.

As a player, he was acknowledged as an outstanding shooter and leader.

“Fred was a constant presence who you could always count on as a teammate on the court,” former teammate Scott Gilly ’90 says. “He would provide leadership and [was] always behind each and every player 100 percent. His signature shot was definitely his fadeaway three-point jump shot because he couldn’t get off the ground enough to dunk.”

Schernecker’s fondest memories from being part of the team were not particular moments in a game but rather the opportunities to develop close relationships with teammates.

“The greatest resource at Harvard is the students,” Schernecker says. “The best part was spending time with the other team members. I don’t necessarily look at [playing basketball] as an achievement but as an overall experience.”

Interestingly, his ties to basketball were what opened up the world of golf.

Warren Smith, a golf professional and a teacher, went to every single one of the basketball team’s practices and games and ended up becoming a father figure for many of the guys on the team, including Schernecker. After his graduation from Harvard, Schernecker learned the game of golf from Smith.

“[Previously] I had very minimal exposure to golf,” Schernecker says. “While I certainly knew golf players, I felt that it was not really a sport before I understood what [it] was really about.”

Smith started the Crimson women’s golf team in 1993 and remained the coach for 11 years. In 1998, the veteran coach asked Schernecker for help with driving the van for the women’s team.

“One thing led to another, and pretty soon I became the head of golf,” Schernecker says. “[Smith’s] the reason why I’m involved in the Harvard golf program.”

The director of golf, a position created eight years ago, is responsible for many of the logistical aspects of the golf program. Schernecker is in charge of recruiting, scheduling, organizing travel, acting as a sounding board for coaches, and fundraising. More importantly, though, he is a great resource for the team members for both academic and career planning.

Just as Smith became a great friend and inspired Schernecker to take up golf, Schernecker has the desire to do the same with the student-athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams. He builds on his experiences as a former Crimson athlete to help the students navigate the Harvard experience.

“[Schernecker]’s really there for you in any capacity in which you want him to be,” women’s captain Mia Kabasakalis says. “He has a really good ear. He meets with the team members at least one or two times a season. He really understands people, and he knows the way to interact with them that will produce the best results.”

“Being a student-athlete at Harvard is not the same as in any other place,” women’s coach Kevin Rhoads adds. “Having a good feel for what students can handle, [Schernecker] knows exactly how to approach any situation. He knows what it is like and it is very unique opportunity to have him with us. We’re very lucky to have him.”