Christoper Clever '01
Track & Field | Class of 2016
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Two-time All-American (1999, 2001)
Three-time Heptagonal Champion (1999, 2000, 2001)
Four-time All-Ivy League selection (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
2001 Penn Relays and IC4A champion
School record holder in the javelin throw
2001 William J. Bingham Award winner
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I’d like to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for such an amazing honor and also take the opportunity to congratulate the other inductees. The privilege of attending Harvard and being able to compete at a high level athletically is such a blessing and each of tonight’s inductees maximized this opportunity and I’m fortunate to be included among them.
My earliest memory of Harvard athletics started with the first recruiting call I received on the initial morning of the open recruitment period prior to my senior year in high school. And when I say first, that’s no small feat. I was lucky enough to be recruited for both Track and Field and Basketball, and over the course of several months, I probably received calls from several hundred recruiters (in full disclosure, most of those basketball calls were from D-II and D-III schools, a fact I’m sure I gloss over in most recounts). But the very first call, on that opening morning was from Dr. Paul Turner, Throws Coach at Harvard University.
Paul was certainly one of the more interesting initial conversations. He possessed an upbeat attitude with a pinch of self-effacement, and he had coached successful javelin throwers in the past. And that fact was not a common thing, and was not overlooked by me. Paul convinced me to come to Harvard for a visit with my parents, a subsequent official recruiting visit, and ultimately helped persuade me to enroll. So I set off on my journey at Harvard with the goal of throwing something far, really far, and it was up to Paul and I to figure out how to make that happen. I was a 6’6” lanky kid from a rural town in Pennsylvania, paired up with Paul, who was, well probably about a foot shorter, and decidedly less lanky. We were the perfect pair.
Paul helped me get strong and explosive, coached me up on my technique and we were off setting records in no time. On top of that, Paul was a true pleasure to come to practice and work for each and every day. He had a great demeanor, was knowledgeable about our sport, and was just great at telling stories, breaking down the latest Seinfeld episode or bragging about the next elite foreign recruit he was about to land for the team in the coming year. I think fondly of Paul, and I know others that had the privilege of spending any amount of time with him do as well. Paul passed unexpectedly in 2007 and is greatly missed, but certainly not forgotten.
Shifting gears a bit, I can’t look back at my Harvard athletics career without thinking of all the characters on the track team. Mainly, “the throwers”. We were the group that confused people when we told them we were on the “track” team. We may have looked like a sordid lot, but we were all deeply committed to our craft, and had a strong bond with one another. I made an instant connection with Tarek Hamid. He became my roommate and best friend at Harvard. Tarek excelled as a discus thrower and he was often my counterpart on countless Olympic lifts, plyometric drills, and medicine ball throws. Tarek really helped make my experience as a track athlete at Harvard enjoyable on a day-to-day basis. I’d like to thank another thrower, Brian Panoff. Brian hosted me on my official recruiting visit and years later helped me land my first job out of school. I’d also like to thank Chris Cancro. Chris was a football player that had one too many concussions and moved over as a thrower on the track team for his last few years at Harvard. Chris, was a godsend as he really pushed me in the weight room and brought some football mentality to strength and power that really forced me to be a much harder working, stronger athlete.
I’d like to thank Head Coach Frank Haggerty for creating an awesome team environment and exposing me to the great state of Texas. I now reside in Austin, TX and am thankful for the amazing Spring Break training trips we took to Rice University each year that opened my eyes to the Lone Star State. I’d also like to thank some of the other elite athletes that were part of the team and certainly helped push my own standards. Darren Dinneen became a great friend, and was a standout 800M runner. Darren and I often roomed together at some of the meets in the latter portion of the season and have remained friends to this day. The two true stars of the team were Dora Gyorffy and Brenda Taylor, both being honored tonight and whose achievements really put my own accomplishments to shame. It was with pleasure and awe that I watched them both compete. And of course any athlete from my era, would be remiss to not thank Gary and the training staff.
Most importantly I’d like to thank my family for their encouragement, and whom without I would never have achieved such success in athletics and life. I am fortunate to have a supportive and athletic father that also threw the javelin and a mother that was the biggest proponent of all of my endeavors. They taught me to always try my best and to really believe in myself.
You may wonder whether there is truly a happy ending for a javelin career? The answer is a resounding Yes. With a little bit of practice, I was able to transfer some of the skills I built up into an even more successful adult recreational kickball career as a pitcher. While I write this with a dash of sarcasm, these skills certainly left an impression on my amazing wife Erin (we met on a kickball team), and we were recently blessed with our first child, a son named Charlie. My life is now full of love, the company I own challenges me daily in the best of ways, and I certainly owe a large portion of where I’ve arrived to my experience with Harvard athletics.