Michael J. Ferrucci '98
Lacrosse - Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Harvard Athletic Acheivements
The 1998 Bingham Award, given to best male athlete of the Harvard senior class, went to none other than Michael Ferrucci. The 1998 Ivy League Player of the Year in lacrosse, Michael was one of the most effective attackmen in the game. He was named to the All-Ivy First Team in 1998 and the All-Ivy Second Team in 1996. Both years he was tabbed as All-American Honorable Mention.
Michael earned spots on the All-New England First Team in 1998 and the Second Team in 1996 and 1997. He was also named the All-New England Player of the Year in 1998. In 1996, Harvard Lacrosse earned an at-large bid to the 1996 NCAA tournament. Harvard gained victory over Hofstra in the first round, 15-12, before falling to Virginia in the quarterfinals.
The four-year letterwinner has also left his mark in the Harvard lacrosse record book. He is second all-time in career goals (131) at the time of his induction. Michael also ranks seventh all-time in assists (79) and third in career points (210). The senior captain was also the recipient of the Harvard Lacrosse Outstanding Player Award in 1997 and 1998.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club and the Selection Committee for this incredible honor. To my fellow inductees, and all of the student athletes that have been inducted before us, it is beyond my wildest dreams to be a part of such a special group.
As I thought about how to approach this essay, it became very clear, very quickly, that I had a lot of people to thank. Lacrosse is a team sport where any player relies heavily on his or her teammates, coaches and trainers—not to mention the ongoing support from family and friends. With that in mind, I figured I would start from the beginning and dole out the necessary “thank you’s” along the way.
The old saying, “You are a product of your environment” holds true when I think about my early years playing lacrosse. Having grown up in Garden City on Long Island, something was wrong if you didn’t have a lacrosse stick in your hands by the time you could ride a bicycle. In my case, I held out longer than most given my affinity for the New York Mets and baseball…and the fact that both overlapped as Spring sports. It was not until the summer between 5th and 6th grade that I decided to join some of my friends at West Point lacrosse camp that I became hooked on the sport. As a late starter in the game I quickly realized that the only way to make up for lost time was to practice—and practice more than anyone else. So the first “thank you” I would like to extend is to my next-door neighbor in Garden City who had to hear the constant, repetitive “thump” of a lacrosse ball being thrown against the plywood wall my father built in our driveway. Looking back, that board was the best babysitter any parent could find for a sports-crazed, hyperactive adolescent boy.
After having very limited success in middle school, I was determined to work as hard as possible to put myself in a position to make Varsity Lacrosse at some point during my high school years. Fortunately for me, my hard worked paid off earlier than expected and I was asked to “try out” for the Varsity team as a freshman. That invitation marked the beginning of the most transformative years of my life—not only as a lacrosse player, but also as a person. Coach “Doc” Dougherty and Coach Doug Dwyer (whose son Devin is a freshman on the current Harvard team), were not just coaches. They were disciplinarians, mentors, friends, and character builders. Coach Dougherty is a legend in the sport and a firm believer in the philosophy that the team that practiced the hardest, was in the best shape, and was the most prepared would—more often than not—wind up on top. He motivated his players to think like champions, act like champions, and perform like champions. For me, transitioning into that mindset was tricky. I will never forget the gamut of emotions I experienced five minutes into my first Varsity practice when—standing 5’8” and 155 pounds—Coach Dwyer watched me run a few drills and yelled across the field in the thickest of thick Long Island accents, “Hey Ferrucci….are you kiddin’ me? You think you’re a midfielder with that speed? My mutha can run fasta than you! Go stand behind Miller (Sr attackman on the team at the time) and don’t leave until I tell you to!” From that point on, I was an attackman and I can’t thank Coach Dwyer enough for that VERY uncomfortable and embarrassing lecture. The new position suited me—and my very questionable speed—perfectly. So thank you to Coach Dougherty, Coach Dwyer, and all of my teammates during my four years at Garden City High School, especially Kasey Wehrum, Mike O’Shea, Drew Melchionni, Dennis DeBusschere and Ryan Kohart. Every one of you challenged me to be the best that I could be, on the field and off, and I am forever grateful.
After my visit to Cambridge during Head of the Charles weekend, I knew right away where I wanted to spend my four years in college. The problem was that it wasn’t quite my decision yet. Coach Anderson and Coach Cleary (amongst others I am sure!) had to do what they could to convince the Board of Admissions that I was a fit. Thankfully, they were able to deliver and I knew my decision was made. While I was going through the process, my father said two things to me that I will never forget. The first thing he said was that the decision I was about to make was obviously a difficult one but, given the schools in consideration, there was no “wrong decision.” Having said that, the very next words out of his mouth were, “While I don’t want to persuade you one way or another…Harvard is really special…and there is only one Harvard.” Boy was he right and those words never left my mind as I was weighing my options. The second thing he said was that I needed to pick a school where I would be happy if, for whatever reason, I couldn’t play lacrosse. I knew right away during my recruiting trip that Harvard was just different. As I walked around the campus, made my way through Harvard yard, experienced the variety that Cambridge has to offer, and ate my body weight in food from Pinocchio’s over that 48 hour period, I realized that it would truly be an honor to be amongst such special individuals in such a special city. So thank you to everyone involved in the process; my family, friends, Dr. O’Brien and especially Coach Anderson, as you put me in a position to build a lifetime of memories and meet some of the most amazing people in the world.
The next “Thank you’s” that I would like to extend are to Coach Anderson and Coach Hiller who, like Coach Dougherty and Dwyer, taught me so much more than just the “X’s” and “O’s” of the game. I am forever grateful to Coach “A” for not only providing me with the opportunity to play lacrosse at Harvard, but also being such a great leader, mentor, coach, and friend. From the very beginning, I knew that Coach Anderson was the type of coach that always put his players first. He made it clear that while winning is obviously important, putting forth your best effort for yourself, and your teammates, is all that he would ever ask of his players. As for Coach Hiller, there is no doubt that he made me the attackman that I became in college. He was one of the best attackmen that ever played the game and thankfully he was able to teach me the little things that he had learned over the years that were so instrumental in helping me become a better player and a better teammate. I would also like to thank graduate assistants like Alex Goodman and Eric Hartung who were always there for my teammates and me whenever we needed their support. Finally, I would like to thank the trainers who took such good care of me during my four years at Harvard. There is no doubt that they kept me in a position to play many more games than I probably should have given the plethora of injuries I incurred over the years—everything from a broken nose to a torn-up knee. They were always there to give me the attention and support I needed. So thank you to Anthony, Chuck and Emmo who all played such an important part in keeping our team healthy.
While my experience at Harvard was incredible for a variety of reasons, there is no doubt that the most rewarding aspect of those four years were the friendships I built. To this day some of my closest friends are individuals I met at Harvard and many of those close friendships were either teammates or fellow student-athletes. I am a better person for having been able to spend so much time with such great people. We experienced so much together and I have such vivid memories that I can hardly believe we are approaching the 15-year-mark since graduation. It seems like yesterday when we all first set eyes on each other at “The Mac” for freshman-athlete orientation in August of 1994. Doug Crofton, Owen Leary, Jared Chupaila, Henry Higdon, Brian Famigletti, Rob Hatch, Louie and Jimmy Bevilacqua—I can’t thank you guys enough for being such great friends. I would also like to thank the other guys from my class; Brad Oliphant, Charlie Brown, Lars Albright, Toby Rando, John Nichlolas, Dave Renton and Phil Eliot. While I know I will leave some people out, I also wanted to make mention of some teammates from surrounding years like the Marvins, Woj, Gaff, Eckert, Lavin, Sheerin, D Nick, Pono, Creighton, Spence, Stamski, Mason, Teddy, Ames, T Brown, DeMuth, von Zuben, Lopez, Stretch Linzee, Lyng, Brennan, Obi, Psaki, Watty, DeVries and Campelli. All of you guys are the reason that my undergraduate experience was a time that I will cherish forever.
The student-athlete community at Harvard is a special one. Trying to find a balance between academics and athletics is far from easy. Studying for an exam after a defeat or, even worse, after an injury is not something anyone can understand unless they have actually done it. The respect that student athletes have for one another is glaringly obvious at Harvard. I was extremely proud to support my friends playing other sports and watching them excel—many of whom are in this room tonight. While I know I am going to forget a bunch of people, I would like to thank some of my other close friends who I would always see on the sidelines during our games; guys like Tripp Tracy, Lonsy, Craig Ads, Karmo, Blumberg, Justin Cons, Andy Walter, Colby and all of the members of the AD Club. Thanks for all of your support!
Quite obviously, none of this would have been possible without the support of my family. Lee, Susan, and Rich—I can’t thank you enough for all of the support and love you have given me over the years. I am so lucky to have siblings that I love, trust, and respect as much as I do the three of you. It is amazing that Mom and Dad were able to foreshadow the incredible bond that we all have now when most of our adolescent encounters ended with someone either crying, grounded, or hearing Mom say those words that none of us ever wanted to hear, “Just wait until your father gets home!!” I love you guys.
Dad—I can’t thank you enough for being the person/father/friend that you are. You have always led by example and so much of what I am most proud of in my life is a direct reflection of the values that you and Mom instilled upon us when we were growing up. You are, and always will be, the person I look up to the most. I only hope that I can follow in your footsteps and raise my family the way you and Mom raised ours. While there are a few words that immediately come to mind when I think about you—loving, loyal, honest, generous—perseverance is the one that comes to mind when I think about how you have helped shape me as an athlete (aside from genetics, which Mom would argue came from her side!) You have always made it clear that there is no substitute for hard work. I heard a quote not too long ago and, when I think about it, I always think about you, Dad. The quote is, “Good things come to those who wait…but only the things left behind by those who hustle.”
Mom—While I always knew that you were the most loving, caring, compassionate, selfless, and dedicated mother any child could ever hope for, it was only when you were faced with one of life’s curveballs that I quickly realized that you are also the toughest, most-determined, and strong-willed human being that I will ever meet. I am forever grateful for all of the sacrifices you made, and continue to make, to put your family first. It is fair to say that I took for granted all of the time you spent shuttling me between practices and games—not to mention finding time to give equal attention to Lee, Susan and Richie. I have very vivid memories of changing out of my football pads into my soccer uniform in the back of our station wagon as you would breeze through red lights making sure I was there for kickoff! You are an incredible person and an even better mother…and now grandmother!
Finally, to the love of my life, Sue—You are the most beautiful person I know, both inside and out, and you have given me the two greatest gifts in the world—Michael and Dylan. I can’t even begin to express how lucky I am to have you as my wife and the mother of our two beautiful children. It is fair to say that I am sure you are sick and tired of hearing friends talk about our “glory days” playing lacrosse at either Garden City or Harvard when we get together, but the fact that you always pretend like you actually care means the world to me! I love you!