Harvard’s football players have been challenged for over 100 years to balance not only academic excellence, but excellence on the field as well. Even during the summer, over 40 players stay in Cambridge to work out and either attend summer school or work a full-time job.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication,” said senior defensive back Sean Ahern. “It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”
Most upperclassmen are working a 9 to 5 job during the summer, while underclassmen take summer courses to help ease the load during the school year.
“You have to be better at time management during the season, because you have all this time that is technically free but it’s really not,” Ahern said.
Weekdays begin at 5:15 am with workouts run by Strength and Conditioning Coach James Frazier and the training staff, according to Ahern. These workouts include a lift, agilities, and conditioning exercises. Head Coach Tim Murphy and all of the position coaches are not allowed to be at summer workouts due to NCAA rules.
Ahern said that he thinks “it’s a good thing; whatever we want to put in is what we are going to get out. We usually put in a lot of work.” The team’s senior leaders additionally organize workouts in the afternoon. Ahern said he believes that the work being put in now will pay off come September 19th, when Harvard will begin their season playing the University of Rhode Island.
The summer is not much different when you’re not on campus as a Harvard football player, with working and working out still a player’s top priorities. Jacob Mayes, a sophomore linebacker from Memphis, Tennessee stayed at home for the summer session. His days are spent much like they would be if he was at Harvard, working out and working a full time job.
Mayes has focused his time on recovering from a back injury, with a goal of being healthy when the players are expected to report back on August 19. Mayes looks forward to reuniting with his teammates in Cambridge. “All the times in the locker room are just the best, being around everyone,” he said.
Ahern will be looking to replicate his standout junior season, although he didn’t set any specific goals for the summer other than “getting in the best shape possible.” He was awarded first team all Ivy League for his play during Harvard’s undefeated 2014 season, along with 37 solo tackles and with two pass breakups.
“There’s nothing more special than Harvard-Yale especially last year, with college gameday, that was the pinnacle of my football career,” he said.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”