In Disguise in Black and White

Published by Jessica L. Flakne on March 28, 2010 at 10:10PM

SAN DIEGO—Radcliffe...where is that?

Inevitably, whenever the Harvard women's rowing team travels for training or competition we get questions such as, "Is Radcliffe a college or club team?" or "Does Radcliffe still exist?"

This weekend, the team's top two eights traveled to San Diego, Calif. to compete against some non-Ivy League opponents. We definitely received some inquisitive stares and the usual questions from spectators not used to seeing the black-and-white blades. And while it often becomes a bit annoying to have to explain that we are indeed a college team, that we all go to Harvard, and that Radcliffe isn't actually in existence anymore but that we have maintained the women's college name and colors for tradition's sake, I'd say that we have all come to take some pride in our name and its mysterious origins.

To the best of my knowledge, the Radcliffe team voted to maintain the Radcliffe name and black and white colors when the women's college merged with Harvard College. The vote maintained a legacy that began with women who rowed on the Charles over 50 years ago. And, as a current member of the varsity squad, I have come to appreciate that legacy and the opportunity to enlighten anyone who asks about it at these different events in which we participate.

Plus, it's nice to think of the team as a stealthy squad that people maybe don't know about as much. I like to think that gives us a bit of a leg up on the competition, and a chance to take everyone by surprise.