The 2010-2011 campaign was a landmark one for the Harvard softball team.
It earned an overall record of 36-16—a new school record—and took the Ivy League Championship for the fifth time against rival Cornell. The team also swept the Ancient Eight awards for only the second time in league history, with co-captain Ellen Macadam garnering Player of the Year, junior Rachel Brown unanimously taking Pitcher of the Year, and freshman Kasey Lange capturing Rookie of the Year.
With the record, the accolades, and the wins, this team seems pretty close to perfect. But as the saying goes, behind every great team is a great coach. Jenny Allard is that coach for the Crimson, and has been for 17 seasons, making her the Ivy League’s longest-tenured softball coach.
Allard has led Harvard softball to every one of its Ivy League titles—the Ancient Eight crown was the fifth for both the program and a coach who has been with the team for the better part of two decades.
But Allard’s success as a coach does not simply come from numbers or awards; it comes from her players’ value of her leadership.
“She’s really in tune with the team and has a great read on the team chemistry,” Brown said. “[The players] all know that she has a lot of coaching experience, and everyone on the team respects her decisions.”
“Coach has an infectious drive that inspires the team to work towards our goals,” junior Whitney Shaw added. “She provides for a solid basis on which we, as players and people, can grow and learn from the game.”
But even with this record-setting season, Allard remained unsatisfied as the regional competition of the NCAA tournament approached. Despite the blowout at regionals, this perfectionist attitude is nothing new, according to her players.
“When games are close and we didn’t play our best, she’s not satisfied,” Brown said. “There are always things to work on in the next practice.”
And this attitude won Allard and her team the title.
In addition to the fifth Ancient Eight trophy, Allard can now boast a 427-327-2 overall record, fives Players of the Year, four Pitchers of the Year, and three Rookies of the Year. She also guided the program to its inaugural berth to the NCAA tournament in 1998.
The record shows that the 2010-2011 Harvard softball team is great, but history shows that its coach might be even better.
“Right now, she is the Harvard softball program,” Brown said. “She has made this program into something incredible and has really put Harvard on the map in the Ivy League.”
—Staff writer B. Marjorie Gullick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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