Paul Wylie '90
Skating - Hall of Fame Class of 2007
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Paul Wylie became a household name during his long and celebrated career as one of U.S. Men’s Skating finest. He began competing at U.S. Nationals in 1982, and placed in the top five, placing him among the best in the nation, for the next ten years. In 1986 he captured a US Collegiate Championship title and went on to place third in the World University Games in 1987. In 1988, Paul secured his standing as an international competitor with a 9th place finish at Worlds and a 10th place finish in the Olympic Games. While he attended Harvard, he consistently ranked in the top three at U.S. Nationals and placed 10th and 11th at the World Championships in 1990 and 1991. Following his graduation from Harvard Paul continued to deliver remarkable performances. In 1992, he placed second at U.S. Nationals and went on to win a Silver Medal in the 1992 Olympic Games.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I had always wanted a letter…but in high school and college letters were only for Varsity athletes in “recognized sports.” So, in my senior year at Harvard, when Bill Cleary presented me with a letter sweater at An Evening With Champions, it was a big deal. I felt as though Harvard was acknowledging the hard work and the achievement of what can be a pretty misunderstood (and oft maligned) sport.
I thank the Varsity Club for the Major H and want you to know that I am deeply honored to be inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. I have to admit that I was completely surprised when I found the letter in the mail. I looked through the book from last year with great nostalgia, as I have the fondest memories of my time at Harvard. I juggled classes at Harvard and hours of ice time every day in rinks all over the Boston area, but still found time to squeeze in more of a social life than I’d ever had before. I found Harvard to be the most supportive training environment I’d ever experienced. I want to take this opportunity to say thanks, formally, to some folks who had everything to do with my success.
Foremost, I acknowledge God, who gave me the talent and the desire to reach for the highest standard and the grace to win an Olympic Medal. I have to remind myself that I only made the Olympic Team by one tenth of a point from one judge. It is so easy to revise the story to erase all the failures that preceded the last redemptive weekend of my career and instead see my medal as a foregone conclusion, even taking the credit for myself. Ultimately, everything I am able to do comes from God, whose design and desire is to display His glory through us, just as He does in the Grand Canyon, the Alps, or in a newborn baby.
God also blessed me with supportive parents who drove me to the rink at five in the morning for years, and who sweated through the tough times with me, emotionally and financially. They instilled in me the value of hard work and the necessity of pursuing dual tracks of athletics and academics, and showed me how these two parts of me fed off each other, while always reminding me that it was all for naught unless skating was developing in me good character.
I had wonderful coaches: Evy Scotvold, who took me back to the basics at age twenty, giving me the tools to jump higher and more consistently so that I could perform the Triple Axel with confidence; and Mary, his wife, who choreographed my programs with passion and joy, transforming four and a half minutes of jumps, spins, and footwork into a personal opus. The love and devotion of their approach, even through the toughest days and deep disappointments, made me want to work harder as I grew to love the sport more.
I also thank my Harvard friends and roommates. Whether sitting around the table in Eliot or in Section, these fellow students fostered an environment that pushed me as much as it encouraged me. My roommate, Rob Soni, a tennis star in his own right, made me laugh and put much of life into a healthy perspective.
Today I am done with “individual sports.” My wife Kate is now my best teammate, and I am blessed to have Hannah and Emma, our two daughters, to raise up knowing what God can do with our efforts to glorify Him as we reach for the highest standard.