According to football captain and fifth-year senior Zach Miller, a similar excitement is mounting within the team, as it prepares to take on Yale in The Game.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying my last moments on the football field with these guys in the locker room,” he said. “I’ve grown up with these guys, matured a lot with them over the past 4½ years … getting to go out with these guys, on such a historic date, in such a historic way, with the Harvard-Yale game by itself, and then doing it at Fenway, it’s going to be awesome for us.”
Former teammate Ben Abercrombie, who was paralyzed in his first game with the Crimson last fall, will be back on campus in the lead-up to The Game, and he plans to spend time with his fellow players.
“This is the first time that Ben has been back to Harvard since he was injured against the University of Rhode Island, almost 15 months ago,” said head coach Tim Murphy. “It’s a big weekend for Ben and his family, and it’s a big weekend for our football team. We are putting together a very versatile itinerary for them to have an opportunity for him to be with his teammates, to meet with folks across the river to discuss his coming back to school next year … and with medical people in Boston since we have some of the best medical people on the planet here … From a team standpoint, everybody’s really, really excited to see Ben, and I know he will be an inspiration for us going into the Yale game.”
Fenway’s natural surface is prompting the team to use its grass practice fields for the first time since September (Harvard doesn’t often play on grass, as there are only two remaining Ivy schools that don’t have artificial turf, and one is Yale), and Miller says he and his teammates are expecting a tough, physical game. The game day set-up on the sideline will add an extra level of intensity, as Fenway’s configuration calls for the teams to be next to each other on the same side of the field. And the crowd, always raucous and totaling about 40,000 fans, will certainly play a role for both teams.
For those who’ll be part of the largest crowd at a Harvard “home” game (the match-up sold out in two days), there will be pregame opportunities to gather with friends, fellow students, alumni, and colleagues in an area for undergraduates in the stadium’s Ipswich Street parking lot, and in a fan zone located in the Brookline Avenue Lot for everyone else.
“I do empathize with folks who certainly take great pleasure and pride in the tradition of Harvard vs. Yale and Harvard Stadium as a home game,” said Murphy, who is coaching in his 25th edition of The Game. “But I think at the end of the day, anybody who ventures out for this game will have a really exciting, educational, and ultimately, satisfying experience.”