Michael J. Eckert '96
Lacrosse - Class of 2011
Harvard Athletic Achievements
It takes a true leader to guide his team to greatness—and Mike Eckert has proven he is nothing short of great. An attackman, Mike co-captained the 1996 men’s lacrosse team to one of its best finishes in program history. That year, Mike, a four-year letterwinner, was named Ivy League Co-Player of the Year as well as First Team All-Ivy while accumulating 47 assists and 72 points on the season. Mike’s outstanding year earned him national honors, including a place on the 1996 USILA Second Team All-America. Mike earned Honorable Mention All-American honors his junior year.
Mike was named Ivy League Player of the Week twice in his career (1995 and 1996) and earned All-Ivy accolades all four years, including two Second Team All-Ivy nominations (1993, 1995). In addition, Mike was recognized by his region, making the Second Team All-New England in 1994, the First Team All-New England in 1995 and 1996, and being named All-New England Player of the Year in 1996.
To this day, Mike is first in assists (152) and points (243) in school history. His 47 assists in 1996 ranks second in Harvard history for a single season. His 72 points in 1996 ranks third in program history for a season and his 12 points against Penn in 1995 is a Harvard single game record. As a senior, he led Harvard to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, beating Hofstra, 15-12, in the first round. The 1996 Crimson went 12-3 overall and 5-1 in the Ivy League.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be so honored, and I thank the Harvard Varsity Club and the Selection Committee for inviting me to become a member of this esteemed group of Harvard athletes. Congratulations as well to the other inductees; it is a privilege to be with you tonight.
To say that I would not be here without the help, love, and support of countless individuals would be a gross understatement, and first among those I need to thank are my first lacrosse coaches, Scott Bryson and Paul Wilson. Scott decided to keep me, an extraordinarily skinny and unimpressive 7th grader, on the first modified team in my town. Scott and Paul were responsible for creating that first team in Pittsford, NY, and they had chosen a ‘keep all comers’ policy in order to get as many kids involved as they could. I only found out years later that Scott would have cut me if that policy had not been put in place, and so I am here today because Scott committed to sharing and teaching the game to as many young players as possible. Thanks, Scott. I must also thank Coach Wilson for making me believe I could become a college level athlete, and I count the many hours sitting with him in his office, often talking about everything but lacrosse, as some of the most formative times in my adolescence, and the reason I ended up at Harvard. Coach Wilson’s dedication and passion for coaching and helping all of the athletes he worked with achieve more than they ever thought they could is why I teach and coach. Scott and Paul helped me more than anyone aside from my parents grow and develop as a person, and I simply cannot thank them enough.
My four years playing lacrosse at Harvard were a transformative period in my life that shaped the person I am today, and I have always felt that what made Harvard so special, both academically and athletically, was the incredible people gathered there. Scott Anderson recruited me and coached me for four years, giving me a chance to play as a freshman, and he developed and built a team that competed and advanced in, the NCAA tournament in my senior year. Big A and Scott Hiller served as both coaches and mentors to me and my teammates, and were such an important component of making my experience so deeply rewarding that I again cannot adequately express my gratitude for the time and dedication they gave their players. The same holds true for Chet, Artie, Dom, Anthony, Mr. Cleary, and all of the other wonderful members of the Harvard Athletic community who helped get me stronger, stay healthy, made sure I had enough trough, and came up with jobs for me to do so I could eat at Pinocchios on occasion.
Today, most of my closest friends come from my time at Harvard, and a disproportionate number have ties to lacrosse. I would like to thank, in particular, the phenomenal guys from my class: Pat McCulloch, Tim Browne, Chris Wojcik, Ted Westhelle, the Marvin Brothers, Matty Sheerin, Matt Stamski, and Carl Talmo. There are too many other wonderful teammates to mention, all of whom played a part in both the fantastic experience and my selection – Bents, Chad, Marty, Mark, Chaney, Simmer, Porter, Agrillo, Gay, Camper, Ames, Gaffney, Spencer, Danny, Mason, Pono, Creighton, Lynger, Ferrucci, Jimmy and Louie – the list could go on and on. Also, a huge shout out to the Superfans and super roommates of Mather 417-420: Barnes, Cons, Ned, and Will who, in addition to Pat, Tim, Woj, and Teddy, made for a great four years and remain some of my closest friends.
Many thanks also to my Connecticut cheering section: Mom and Dad May, Grandma May, Kevin, Ned & Barbara. Even though my wife’s family did not know me at the time, if they had, I am sure they would have been just as loving and supportive as they have been for the past decade. My love and thanks to my brother Matt, his wife Carrie, and my two nephews Colin and Ben. Matt was an excellent football player at Davidson, a Captain in the U.S. Army, and has been my closest and most enthusiastic supporter since we were in diapers.
All said, nobody deserves more of my gratitude than my mom and dad, Mary and Fred, who both worked and sacrificed so that I would enjoy every opportunity, cheered through wind and rain at hundreds of my brother’s and my games for nearly twenty years (my dad saw almost every single game I ever played, and filmed most of them), and were never more proud of me than during my time at Harvard, though of course they would have been proud of me no matter what. Although we lost my dad to cancer a year and half ago, I know that he feels fiercely proud right now and is trying not to show it with his typical stoicism. I accept this award tonight in his honor.
Finally, to the most important person in my life, my wife Heather, who is and always will be my best friend and biggest fan. All my love and thanks to you for being you, and for carrying Twin A and Twin B whom we will get to meet in October. Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club and to all of the friends, teammates, coaches, and family who made this possible, I am deeply honored.