KURCZ OF THE BILLY GOAT: Unsung Heroes of Harvard Athletics

Kurcz of the Billy Goat


How awesome are movies?

Actors and actresses parading around the screen, interacting with directors and producers in the background, all in hopes of wowing the world with the next blockbuster.

And with blockbusters come Oscars, which then, of course, lead to fame, fortune, and, usually, rehab.

But where are the red carpet awards for films’ financial coordinators or locations managers or guys who snap the clapboard before each scene?

Thousands of people work together toward the final product of a movie, but relatively few get recognized. Sure, perhaps it is harder to act well than it is to hold a microphone over a set, but successful productions rely on the guys behind the scenes in order for things to run smoothly.

The same is true in Division I athletics.

Players are like the movie stars. Viewers come specifically to see them put on a show. Even coaches, through the success and style of their teams, can get widespread recognition without being in the spotlight, just like directors and producers can.

But the hard work and dedication that go into winning championships are not only demonstrated by coaches and players.

A long list of people crucial to an athletic program’s success do not receive championship rings at the end of a winning season. They are not featured in a newspaper’s headline. They rarely even get talked about.

Here, it’s the sports medicine staff. Strength and conditioning coaches. The laundry and equipment crew. Faculty fellows. Announcers and interns. The maintenance team for locker rooms and facilities. Alumni. Administrators who do scheduling and deal with the NCAA. The liaisons between the athletics department and other facets of Harvard. The list goes on and on.

They’re the offensive linemen of football, the air traffic controllers for flights, the house elves at Hogwarts. An industry can’t function without them, but few understand or are even aware of their importance.

The hours an athlete spends across the river training to be fitter, perfecting technical skills, treating and preventing new and old injuries are not only to make friends or fill free time. The point of visiting Palmer Dixon, the strength and conditioning facility, a few times a week is not to keep the staff company. An athlete’s commitment, in its most basic form, is to pursue victory. To win.

But the unsung heroes that work in the athletic department are some of the most altruistic people out there. They’re like the Mother Teresas of athletics—selfless and devoted, providing necessary services for athletes and never expecting anything in return.

Athletic trainers come to work at the crack of dawn to help with every last nagging injury, and not uncommonly they stay late, past the times their families want them home, to make sure post-practice rehabilitation has been taken care of.