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This year, the historic game of croquet was restored to Harvard’s athletic fields, and the young team has already catapulted to success on a national scale. The recently re-founded Harvard croquet team competed in the United States Croquet Association Collegiate National Championships this past weekend in Haverford, Penn., placing fifth in the country.
While croquet is nothing new at Harvard, the squad has only sporadically existed in the last several decades, a shadow of its former glory. But according to sophomore captain Eric Brewster, Harvard is back in the game. And it's back to stay.
“We were the nation’s finest in the 80s,” Brewster explained. “We had a very strong team.” And with this recent resurrection the team is “hoping that Harvard is entering a croquet renaissance.”
The current A team is comprised of six members, all sophomores, who compete in pairs of two. Brewster plays with Nikhil Mehra alongside the pairings of Ben Silva and Mariel Pettee and Caleb Thompson and Tobi Tikolo.
The three pairings competed separately over the course of the weekend, with all the performances working towards their aggregated score. By the second day, the Crimson was one of eight teams to qualify for the final round, where the team went up against some of the powerhouses of the croquet world, like SUNY New Paltz University, Case Western Reserve University, and Davidson University.
“The team had some very close calls in the final round,” Brewster said. “We had a few crucial matches which were both lost in heartbreaking last-second plays.” Brewster described the moments as “kind of like last-second buzzer beaters in basketball.”
But the team is nowhere close to being done.
“We’re extremely determined to come back next year and take it all,” Brewster said. “We just need a little more work on strategy, accuracy, and funding.”
While the young age of its starting lineup means that all six players should be returning next spring, the squad is also determined to work on the size of its roster.
But when asked about his team’s recruiting techniques, Brewster only said, “We believe that the glory of croquet has its own appeal. You don’t find croquet, croquet finds you.”
As for the rest of us, we can only hope that Harvard’s croquet team will continue on its march back to the national croquet spotlight, where, Brewster promises, it will “restore Harvard’s glory and greatness.”
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