Football Q&A: Ben Braunecker

Football Q&A: Ben Braunecker

"Ben is perhaps the most explosive and athletic tight end we have had at Harvard, including three guys who have signed NFL contracts in the past three years."  - Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football.

Q: What is your concentration?
Molecular and Cellular Biology, MCB for short.

Q: What do you hope to do in life once football is finished?
I hope to continue my science education with an advanced degree and use that to improve the understanding of the natural world.

Q: Can you explain the nuances of your position and provide something for the casual fan to better understand your position?
The tight end is a position that's second in difficulty only to the quarterback, if I do say so myself.  You must know the details of every play in the playbook (not just run plays or pass plays alone) and identify both defensive fronts and coverages.  Also, a tight end must be massive enough to block defensive linemen yet quick enough to outrun defensive backs.

Q: What's your favorite Harvard team to watch as a fan? 
Basketball.  The atmosphere here isn't quite like it is in Indiana, but it's still exciting.

Q: What are the hardest parts of being a student-athlete at Harvard?
Exhaustion and time management.  Anybody that doesn't acknowledge these two isn't making the most of their time at Harvard.

Q: Who do you like lining up against in practice?
Scott Peters.  We are blockmates so there's an interesting competitive dynamic between the two of us.  Scott is an extremely talented and gifted human being, so I take pride in any instance that I frustrate him on the field.

Q: Who has the best nickname on the team and why? 
Paul "Master Splinter" Kaczor:  alike in habitat, not in personality.  Nothing more needs to be said.

Q: Do you have a nickname and how did it come about?
Bronk, like Gronk.  It was given to me here when I started to make some plays on the scout team freshmen year because we look alike.  Athletically, it would be nice if we were alike.  Off the field, I'm glad we aren't alike.

Q: What do you think of when you hear Harvard's mission statement of "Education through Athletics?" 
I think there is so much to learn and develop from playing sports that it's entirely accurate. On one side, through the pain of pushing yourself in athletics you not only forge valuable attributes that can make up the foundation of your being, but you can also find out what kind of person you are in the midst of adversity.  On another side, the mission statement can take another meaning. For me, athletic life was the vessel that brought me to the life-changing education at Harvard. I will forever be grateful.

Q: If you weren't playing football, you would be…
Undoubtedly, I would be intermittently eating ramen in dark corners of a lab while trying to start HeLa cell lines, visualize Westerns, and digest vectors with restriction enzymes like most of my science friends.

Q: Where are your favorite places to eat in the square? 
Al's Sub Shop, Qdoba, and Chipotle have each equally robbed me of a small fortune.

Q: If you could do anything for a day without any cost considerations, what would it be?
Travel to the world's most famous monuments! My parents did the best they could when I was growing up, but we often didn't have much time to leave the Midwest.

Q: If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Jesus Christ, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Will Smith.  Each conversation would be significantly different, but all would be unforgettable.

Q: What is your favorite Murphy-ism (quote/saying that Coach Murphy is known for)?
After spending years in his office, Murphy-isms have packed my Harvard football experience, but my favorite is "going past you like two ships in the night".  Coach Murphy usually uses this when he's critiquing you, but it almost feels like a joke when said.

Q: What is the best thing about being from your hometown? 
As a youth in small-town southern Indiana, there isn't much to do.  As a result, my videogame prowess is second to none.  Perhaps equal in importance, Ferdinand gave me respect for others, a blue-collar work ethic, and a sense of community.

Q: One thing most people don't know about me is that...
I am a nerd enjoying himself in an athlete's body.