Jennifer Greeley '85
Soccer - Hall of Fame Class of 2000
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Greeley was a stellar two-sport athlete, garnering second team All-American status in both lacrosse and soccer. In 1982, she won the 1982 Pan-Ivy Award, awarded to the “Most Outstanding Player” as voted upon by Ivy coaches. She was the first women’s soccer player to ever earn an All-Ivy first team honors for four-straight years and MVP of the 1981 All-Ivy Tournament as a freshman.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I consider myself lucky in so many respects. As a young girl growing up in the 1970s, I was able to benefit from the vision and determination of female athletes who had fought for equality for women in sports. Due to their activism and willingness to take risks, I was able to begin my soccer career in sixth grade as a participant in a brand new girls’ soccer program in my town. A visionary in her own right, my mother was one of the first coaches and shared with my father in setting the standard for athletes in our family. Asa spectator to my parents’ very active, athletic lives, I grew up in an atmosphere where participation in sports was encouraged and a competitive spirit was regarded as a positive aspect of a woman’s personality.
Not only did I benefit from this atmosphere at home, but my luck continued when I arrived at Harvard. I found myself surrounded by kindred spirits in the soccer program who shared my love of the sport and thrilled to the joys of competition. I realize now how fortunate my teammates and I were to participate in the program at Harvard established by groundbreaking women like Julie Brynteson and Sue St. Louis. Their effort allowed us the luxury of simply playing without having to worry about such mundane but essential details as uniforms, scheduling, transportation, coaching. In 1981, I started my freshman year with four outstanding classmates and a powerful team of upperclassmen. All we had to worry about was winning and improving – a luxury indeed.
Soccer is a wonderful game in which a little-noticed play can have a dramatic and profound effect several moments later in an entirely different part of the field. A large part of the reason that I am being honored tonight is due to the fact that for four years I shared the field with talented teammates (and good friends) who allowed me the opportunity to thrive within a team game. For that I am grateful.
I was also fortunate to play for two inspired and inspiring coaches at Harvard, Bob Scalise in soccer and Carole Kleinfelder in lacrosse. Bob demanded maximum effort and achieved maximum results. He began coaching at the inception of the program and invested as much as the players in making women’s soccer not only successful but respected. Carole is simply an amazing coach and person. Her record of success in the women’s lacrosse program speaks for itself, with years of Ivy League titles and an NCAA championship to her name. But more importantly, she taught me how to think my way through a game in addition to how to play it. The effect that she has had on me continues to this day as I try to impart a fraction of her wisdom to the high school girls on the lacrosse team that I coach.
Finally, I want to thank my family. Growing up, my siblings were a constant source of support and encouragement. While I marvel daily at their talents and accomplishments, my sister and brothers continue to inspire me. And my parents were not only supportive; they attended almost all of my games in high school, college and beyond. It is easier to play hard when the two people that you admire and love the most are rooting for your success from the sidelines. I truly would not be receiving this honor without them.