They motivate the team. They lead the squad in victory, as well as defeat. They are the role model players look to for advice when they are on the field.
All of these descriptions define a coach. But of equal importantance, they define a good captain.
At the end-of-season football banquet on November 25, junior defensive back Norman Hayes was named the 141st captain of the Harvard football team for the 2014 season. He replaces the current captain, senior linebacker Josh Boyd.
“This is simply amazing,” said Hayes at the banquet. “History, tradition, and leadership all come to mind when I think of this incredible honor.”
Hayes represents an addition to the growing list of defensive captains. There hasn’t been an offensive captain since quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 in the 2004 season, and the past three seasons have seen linebackers filling the leadership position.
“He has to be the guy who brings the energy, attitude and leadership day after day after day,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said in an email.
“A good captain has to be willing to challenge his teammates and hold them to the same high standard he holds himself, and that is a trait that makes many players uncomfortable.”
Football captains are elected by fellow teammates each year. After the final game of the season, the players all get together and vote for the captain for the following season.
According to junior quarterback Conner Hempel, Hayes was an easy choice.
“Obviously you have to be a good player, but I think that’s kind of a given,” Hempel said. “The most important thing for a captain is they have to be a good face for the football team. I think Norman Hayes really is a perfect candidate for our captain because not only is he a good football player, but he is also an outstanding person and a great person to be the face of our football team.”
Murphy agrees that Hayes is the perfect man for the job.
“Norman is a natural leader by example with a great work ethic, energy, and attitude,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t hurt that he is a great player and the most physical defensive back in the Ivy League. Beyond that, he has tremendous leadership charisma, and his energy and enthusiasm rub off on his teammates.”
The Harvard football team has a tradition of electing a single captain, something that sets them apart from most programs. Hayes admits to being quite surprised when he was told of his new position leading the team.
“I’m so humbled by the thought that so many of my teammates see in me things to be expected of the captain of the Harvard Crimson football team,” Hayes said at the banquet.
The Tucker, Georgia native was named to the All-Ivy first team this season as well as the College Sports Madness All-Ivy first team. In his sophomore campaign, Hayes made the second team All-Ivy roster.