Crimson Catch Up: Matt Leiszler '03

Matt Leiszler '03 played running back at Harvard while concentrating in biology and meeting pre-med requirements. He was projected to be the starting running back his junior season after rushing for six touchdowns and 483 yards as a sophomore, but a second ACL injury ended his career early. Leiszler completed his medical schooling at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and today is the head team physician for the University of Notre Dame football team.
 

Title & Employer: Head Team Physician, University of Notre Dame Football
House: Adams
Concentration: Biology
Sport: Football


When I think about my time at Harvard, the first thing that comes to mind is…

The friendships, including those with football teammates, roommates, classmates, coaches, and professors. 


Away from athletics, I…

Volunteered at Boston Medical Center and with other medical shadowing programs, helped with after school programs for inner-city youth, and was a member of the Delphic Club.

What I’m most proud of during my time at Harvard is…

Being able to thrive in that environment. There are times that the culture of Harvard, with the incredible people you are surrounded by and their talents and accomplishments at such a young age, can be intimidating. I am proud to have been able to find my own successes in that challenging environment. 

Harvard helped me to…

Gain a much greater understanding and appreciation of the global aspect of today’s world. There are so many intelligent people with extremely diverse backgrounds and ideas at Harvard, and being part of that allowed me to gain an ability to appreciate their ideas and viewpoints that plays a role in my everyday interactions.

Being a student-athlete taught me…

Time management and hard work. As all student-athletes at Harvard quickly learn, you are essentially working full-time in two jobs: your academics and your sport. As a biology major meeting pre-medical class requirements, I learned how to maximize my day, never waste time, and still experience Harvard and much of what it has to offer.
 

What surprised me most about Harvard was that…

The students are from extremely variable backgrounds, both from a geographical and socioeconomic standpoint. Being from a fairly small town in Kansas, while growing up I did not have the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, so this was a welcome surprise. 
 

Throughout my career I have learned that…

In the medical field, things are always evolving, whether it is related to diagnosis and management of concussions, knee injuries, or risk factors for various illnesses. This requires a constant curiosity regarding the latest research and information that can help me to serve my patients better. 
 

My most important career move was to…

Accept the position of head team physician for the football team at the University of Notre Dame. I knew this would be a job in which I would feel challenged and need to continue to grow as a physician in order to thrive. 

 

I enjoy my work because…

My “office” is often outside on the sideline of the football field, which is pretty hard to complain about. I also get to work with student-athletes in a challenging academic and athletic environment, which I can really relate to and it is gratifying to play a small role in helping these students succeed. 


Outside of work, I…

Try to find as much time as possible to spend with my wife, Tori, and three kids, Teegan, Tana, and Ty. It is fun to live in a college town and be so connected as a family to the University. I also enjoy golfing, snowboarding, and watching and playing nearly all sports.

 

As an alumnus, my strongest tie to Harvard…

Continues to be athletics, both due to following today’s teams as well as my current role in athletics health care. 
 

I am able to stay in touch with my teammates and classmates by…

One of the great parts about Notre Dame playing a national away game schedule is that we often have games in cities where I get to grab dinner and catch up with teammates and friends from Harvard. I have also played fantasy football for years with a group of Harvard football guys, and we try to hold an annual draft in which we get together in a different city, which has been an awesome tradition. 

 

The most important piece of advice I can give current student-athletes is to…
Do what you can to experience all that Harvard has to offer in addition to the athletics and academic space. As a student-athlete, most of your time is already spoken for between practice, travel, meetings, studying, and classes, but if you can find extra time in your schedule to join clubs, meet other students, and experience all that Cambridge and Boston have to offer, you will not regret it. 

The Harvard Varsity Club is…
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A fantastic way to stay connected to the University as well as give back in a way that is specific to allowing current student-athletes to experience the incredible opportunities I have had as a result of being a student-athlete at Harvard. 


-- Your Team for Life --