Harvard Football Volunteers With AccesSportAmerica

Harvard Football Volunteers With AccesSportAmerica

-Top Photo courtesy of Mark Thirman

BOSTON, Mass. - Harvard football players took to the river last weekend with a volunteer effort in conjunction with AccesSportAmerica (, a national non-profit organization that inspires higher function and fitness for children and adults living with disabilities through high-challenge sports.

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-Photos by Chip Fanelli 


"Carl Ehrlich and his team were just incredible," said Barbara Tellalian, Director of Development for AccesSportAmerica. "They exemplified the very best of sportsmanship, leadership, athleticism, personality, warmth and humor- they each made everyone's day especially our AccesSportAmerica Athletes."

Event Coverage From WHDH TV7

Competing in the "Mayor's Cup," the seven-member team representing Harvard football won its Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Race which started at the Arthur Fielder Footbridge near the Hatch Shell. Skippered by Carl Ehrlich, the 2009 football captain, Harvard football competed in the "Best Time" race. The team paddled down river faster than the Boston Business Journal and Team Red Sox with a time of 6:39.

"A lot of people were coming up to us and telling us how other college football teams that raced in the past were ‘too heavy,' or ‘thought they could just muscle the boat,' and they were definitely skeptical of how we would do," joked Ehrlich after the race. "With instructor Miles McDonald and between the form and timing of the stroke, what the regatta really came down to was discipline. In that regard, the race played right into our hands. I also may have given a pretty serious pep talk beforehand..."

Team members were comprised of Mike Lawler, Ramsey Lafayette, Matt Luft, Mike Cook, Anthony Rotio, Ryan Burkhead and Ehrlich. The team was joined by AccessSportAmerica's Alex McDonald while instructor Miles McDonald assisted in the efforts. All his usual joking aside, Ehrlich was quick to point out the team's MVP - Alex McDonald.

"Alex really was incredible," remarked Ehrlich. "During the entire process leading up to the event, we had talked about wanting to win the whole thing, but after seeing how excited Alex was to get in the boat and get out there, there was no doubt that we were taking home the crown. She was definitely the driving motivation behind the win."

While winning a race was icing on the cake for the football' team's newest member, McDonald also brought home another souvenir - a signed Harvard football.

In achieving its mission, AccesSportAmerica:

  • Engages over 1,500 athletes in year round programs: High-Challenge Sports -adaptive windsurfing, Hawaiian outrigger canoeing, kayaking, rowing, cycling, soccer, tennis, climbing as well as Personal Training and Conditioning with Sports - all designed to achieve higher function and fitness.

  • Offers Travel Sports Camps, intensive one-two week annual sports and conditioning program at targeted locations nationwide.

  • Provides $250,000 in a free, year round program - City Street - for underserved, economically challenged urban youth in partnership with the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, community-based organization and the commitment of supporters.

  • Accommodates all disabilities; creates/develops nationally recognized Adaptive Equipment, the first to adapt for windsurfing.

  • Collaborates with professional experts to document physical and social changes and to promote health, educational and recreational benefits.

  • Depends on the generosity and support of individuals, corporations and foundations to raise $850,000 annually as well as significant gifts in-kind.