Crimson Characters: Water Polo's Devon MacLaughlin

Crimson Characters: Water Polo's Devon MacLaughlin

Editor's Note:
The feature story below on women's water polo senior co-captain Devon MacLaughlin, is part of a year-long commitment to highlight Harvard's captains and other intriguing student-athletes. For more question-and-answer features click here and enjoy the high-caliber student-athletes whom we have come to enjoy. 

Senior Devon MacLaughlin was one of the leaders of this years women's water polo that qualified for the Eastern Championships for the first time since 2007. Aside from her leadership, also contributed in the pool scoring a goal against Bucknell that led the Crimson to a 9-8 victory for seventh-place at the Eastern Championships.

MacLaughlin shares with some of her plans for the future and shares with us who her mentors are that have been her inspiration in water polo. The Californianan can speak two different languages, which will be helpful in her sailboat venture...

What is your area of concentration at Harvard?

How has it prepared for life when you graduate?
I'm not quite sure yet, but hopefully it will be useful if I decide to go to law school in the next couple years.

How have your studies helped you athletically? How have athletics helped you academically?
Athletics have helped me manage my time. I'm always much more efficient in season. Academics have helped me center my thinking in sports more. I think all my study of political theory has actually made me better at visualization and thinking strategically because they require using imagination to better understand things and you are able to find weaknesses in the argument and the opponent.

What is the best cereal ever created?
Raisin Bran.

What has been you most memorable moment competing for Harvard?
Beating Brown in their pool at Eastern Championships my freshman year.

How old were you when you started playing water polo?

I was 12 - I played on a coed team because there weren't enough girls playing at that time to have an all-girls team.

Were you ever involved in any other sports?
I played soccer in middle school until I broke my leg tripping over the ball. I stuck with water sports after that. I swam on the high school swim team to stay in shape for water polo season.

Did you ever learn to play any other musical instruments?
I played the viola in middle school and part of high school until one of the school orchestra concerts conflicted with an international tournament in Canada. The orchestra teacher said he would fail me if I missed the concert, so I couldn't compete in the tournament. I quit after that year.

If you could compete in any sport (out of the water of course) at Harvard, which would it be?
I would kind of like to try crew, although I don't know how I would feel about all those morning practices.

Lyrically, is there any song out there right now that just blows you away every time you hear it?
"Closing Time," by Semisonic

What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time away from the books and the pool?
I love reading on the beach (this really only works out well when I go home though).

Who is or was your mentor in water polo? What has this person meant you?
My club coach, Rich Corso, was the one who really got me into the sport and really watched over me throughout my entire time playing. He let me train with his boys' team because the girls' team wasn't very good. He was a tough man to play for, but everyone who played for him came away knowing pretty much everything there is to know about water polo.

Also, right now I really look up to our assistant coach, Ellen Estes Lee. She's a two-time Olympian and just finishing up Harvard Business School. She's incredibly smart, a great player, and a great person. Harvard water polo has been really lucky to have her these last two years, and I would love to be more like her.

Besides English, can you speak any other language?

I am fluent in French and in my second year of learning Czech.

Finish this sentence, "If I had a million dollars I'd..."
Travel all over the world.

So you've been saving up money for years for your dream sailing dinghy. It's big enough to house two comfortably and small enough to man out at sea. You have bought enough supplies and have enough money to travel around the world for a year (and of course you have the skills to survive at sea). Who would you take and what sites would see on your excursion?
I would take my former teammate and close friend Laura Stoppel. We have really similar tastes in what we like to do and see, so we would have a great time together. I know both of us would love to see New Zealand and Australia so we could do some scuba diving (although I would need to get certified first). I think we would also definitely visit the Mediterranean Sea and visit some cute ports throughout Europe (especially Italy and Greece). I would also like to go around Africa, and up around India, over to Thailand, Japan, and China. Actually, I'm going to aim high and say I'd just like to go around all the continents so I could see everything.

What is your favorite state and why?
California, obviously. It has beautiful beaches, its warm and sunny, so you can be outside all year round, but you can also get away to Tahoe or Big Bear for hiking and skiing.

If you could spend a day in anyone else's shoes, who would it be and why?

I'd like to replace a deep-cover spy. I would really like to see how I would handle that kind of situation; plus, it sounds really glamorous and exciting.

If you can remember that long ago, what was the first children's novel you read?

The Rainbow Fish. I don't know if you can call it "reading" but I memorized all the words including where page turns were, so when I was about 3 I "read" the book to my uncle.

Assuming you have an iPod, what is the No. 2 (your number) song on your "Top 25 Most Played" Playlist?
"Don't Trust Me" by 3OH!3

Your hometown, Agoura Hills, Calif., is just north of Malibu; how far have you driven on Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway? What's the best view on the drive in your opinion?
Well it merges with other highways at some points, but once I took it back from San Francisco- it took a lot longer, but it was much prettier. I love the view near Zuma beach - I saw a whale there once and now every time I drive through there I'm on the lookout.

What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. It's a big holiday in my family. Everyone comes over to our house (we have had up to 30 people for dinner) and my mom makes everything from scratch. You get great food, great family time and you don't have the stress of buying presents like at Christmas.

If you were forced to get a slogan that best represented your philosophy tattooed on your forehead, what would it be?
Work hard, play hard.