Player Profile: Harvard transfer Harmeling finds home at 'herst

After completing an illustrious career at Andover, Harmeling headed to Harvard University where she planned to continue her career as a three-sport athlete. Mononucleosis, however, sidelined Harmeling during the soccer season, and she had to be satisfied with spots on the squash and lacrosse squads.

The squash team won the national championship and the lacrosse team compiled a winning record; however, Harmeling decided she wanted smaller classes and a smaller athletic time commitment.

“Lacrosse took five to six hours a day,” said Harmeling, “and I just couldn’t do that.”

As a senior at Andover, Harmeling applied to Amherst but withdrew her application upon acceptance to Harvard. When it came time for her to apply as a transfer student, Amherst was her sole choice.

“I met with the coaches and they were all really nice and welcoming,” she said.

However, before coming to Amherst, Harmeling took a year off. “I worked in Boston at Fidelity and two other financial consultants, then I drove cross-country to San Diego … The year off was awesome,” she said.

At Amherst, Harmeling has certainly found her niche both academically and athletically.

At Harvard, Harmeling said she had “lecture classes of 600 people.” However, as an economics major at Amherst, she enjoys the smaller class sizes and the relationships with professors that she could not find at the larger university.

Athletically, in just one-and-a-half semesters Harmeling has already become a force to be reckoned with in the NESCAC in both soccer and squash.

In the fall, as a midfielder and later a member of the offensive line, Harmeling led the soccer team in points and scoring, with 19 points and nine goals. Additionally, she garnered Second-Team All-NESCAC honors for her fine play.

Harmeling’s first Amherst goal came in her first game as a Jeff on Sept. 8 in a 2-0 victory over conference foe Connecticut College. Though Harmeling claims that she “need[s] to work on [her] finishing,” she scored in five of the Jeffs’ eight victories and had a 0.60 goals-per-game average, enough to finish sixth in the NESCAC.

During the squash season, Harmeling was integral to helping the Jeffs finish 12th in the nation. By the end of the season, Harmeling was playing first singles. However, in the first match of the season against Tufts, Harmeling was in the number four spot. By Interterm, she was playing in the second spot, and by January’s end she had moved up the ladder to play in the number one position. Individually, Harmeling made it to the finals in the B division at Howe Nationals before falling to Bowdoin College’s Merrill Muckerman.

According to the squash team’s senior co-captain Roopali Agarwal, Harmeling’s “greatest strength as a squash player is her versatility on the court.” Agarwal added that, “Even as a sophomore her ability to play in the number one position was quite impressive.” She also pointed to Harmeling’s on-court leadership as an additional impressive trait that helped the Jeffs throughout the season.

Harmeling does not see a large difference between Div. I and Div. III play. She contends that many players at Amherst in both squash and soccer could have played Div. I had they so desired.

“Her Ivy experience definitely carried onto the court and helped us against NESCAC opponents,” said Agarwal.

Harmeling called the squash team’s training trip to Florida a high point in her still-young athletic career at Amherst. “We had a great season,” she said, “and we got a lot better” from the season’s beginning to the end.

Though Harmeling referred to lacrosse as her “main sport,” she would not name one as her favorite. “I know it sounds cliche,” said the three-sport athlete, “but I like each of them differently.”

She points to passing accuracy as a strength in both lacrosse and soccer and referred to “tenacity” as a characteristic that helps her in all three sports.

At the end of the squash season, Harmeling played through an injured hip flexor and hamstring in the tournament and as a result is probably out for the entire lacrosse season. However, she plans to contribute next year on attack and in the midfield.

Harvard’s loss is certainly Amherst’s gain as Jeff fans can look forward to six more seasons of Harmeling in the purple and white on the fields and the courts.