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Dante Balestracci ’04 | HVC Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Dante Balestracci ’04 | HVC Hall of Fame Class of 2019

– Thank you, so much. I am incredibly humbled and honored to be up here tonight, and to be recognized by the Varsity Club. So, thanks to the Varsity Club not only for this great honor, but also for putting on
this fantastic event. I think one of the most
fun things that all of us have gotten to do over the last few months is really reflect on our time at Harvard. And these strolls down memory lane have made me very unproductive at work, but have been incredible to go back and think about all the great times that we had, so thank you for the honor, but thank you for having us
go through that experience because I think it’s very special. I think, you know, the– I look around this room, and as you mentioned a lot
of the banquets are here, so I’ve actually been behind this dais a few times before, and I get the same feeling
every time I’m up here, Hannah and I were
talking about it earlier. You get that feeling like I’m
sittin’ in Dilion Feildhouse waiting to run through the
tunnel and play a game. But it’s a great feeling. You feel alive, you feel excited, and everyone, all the
athletes in this room know what I’m talking about. We’ve also been able to
celebrate a lot of milestones in this room, in addition
to being named caption. Which is something I’m really proud of. There’s only one caption in football, and your teammates vote on it. Something that, you know,
I thought was very special and continue to be proud of. To the Greeley Crocker
Award the next year, to the best man speech at Brendan and Emily McHathry’s wedding, and then I’ve had the
opportunity to be back to MC, the football banquet. And, so this is a very
special room for me. The overwhelming feeling
that I have tonight, and over these last few months has been one of gratitude. I’m incredibly grateful
for all the opportunities that I’ve been afforded over my life, and for the people that have provided those opportunities for me. Coach Murph, thank you for
giving me the opportunity to come to Harvard, play the sport I love, and to introduce me not
only to a different level of competition and football, but to introduce me to
all my lifelong friends who are here tonight. And you know, I think, and I wrote it, but you know Coach Murph, the one thing that I think
is incredibly special is you’ve been able to develop
this true culture of family in the football program. Expands generations, it starts
the moment you step on campus and it never ends. And I ultimately, you know, think that that will be your true legacy, more so than the wins and losses, which are amazing and
we’re all so proud of. But thank you so much for the opportunity. I want to thank my
teammates, and my friends. I said that if you came
tonight you got a shout-out. So, B-Mack, Fratto, Garcia,
Curney, Rone, Moojoe, Ryman, Fits, Kissler, Kat, and Semo. Hopefully I didn’t forget anybody. Thank you so much for coming here, it means the World to
me to have your support. And, you know, we had some wonderful times while we were in college. And, you know, we
celebrated all the weddings, and the births, and these
are the relationships that are what make
athletics so truly special, and I think football truly special, is that you forge these bonds
that are truly enduring. And, so thank you so much
for the support tonight. Wanna also thank some
folks from my childhood, Timmy Walsh, my best friend growing up. We battled each other on the
same team, on the other team, for years, and years, and years. Really learned how to
compete with one another, and ultimately got to compete with him when he played at Lafayette, and I’ll get to another
part of that in a minute. So, Timmy thank you for being
here and for the support. To my brothers, Mark and Tom, like Tim we learned to compete, we
learned to be good sports, kind of, but we learned
how to be competitors in the backyards, in the driveway. You know, if any didn’t
know, you can use the divider for the garage doors as a pick
if you only have one-on-one. (laughter) But uh, no, and I’m so proud of what you guys have accomplished, and which gets me to, well you know, one of my great experiences
from Harvard senior year. Opening game was against Holy Cross, Mark was a defensive back, he intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick, which at the time didn’t happen. (laughter) Good, you did a good job. Second game was with Brown, and Tommy made the travel squad, and then a few games later we played Tim and Lafayette, and the icing on the cake is
that we beat all three of them. And then another thanks to Coach Murphy for continuing the success
against these programs so I have family bragging rights on a pretty much
(laughter) annual basis. But thank you guys so much, I really treasure our relationships and love you guys. To my parents, Dante and Judy, um, you know, what can I say? You guys have been these for all of us, you know, throughout every
trial or tribulation, good time, bad time. Whatever it was you’ve always been there to support us. And I think you gave us a perspective and grounded us to really
focus on what’s important, which isn’t necessarily the
list of things over there. It’s not the wins ans losses, right. It’s giving it your all, having no regrets, and you know, being selfless. And, you know, I think
those are the things that you instilled in all of us, and I really appreciate it. And you were there for everything. You never missed a game. And I can’t thank you
enough, I love you guys, thank you. Then I have some extended
family here tonight, which I’d be a mess not to thank. My in-laws, Sulivans. It’s kind of a football rivalry
in our house a little bit. My father-in-law played at Ohio State, The Ohio State some would say. (laughter) But I did beat him in the
in high school rankings. I was three, he was four, we both went to the same
high school in New Bedford. So, while Ohio States pretty good, Harvard’s pretty good. Yeah, I gotcha on that one. But, thank you so much. Your support of me throughout my career, and some of you might know,
but most of you don’t, Kelly and I have been dating
since we were 14-years-old. So I’ve been at their
house a number of times, you guys have supported me through my high school career,
through my college career, and the support that you give my family and my kids is truly
remarkable, so thank you. Now to the kids. Dante, I love your curiosity,
and your creativity. Marko, I love your energy, (laughter) I love your positive attitude. Hannah, you’re so kind, caring, and sweet. And all three of you bring
all of that to our family and make it a really special,
rewarding experience, and you make Kelly and I both so happy. And then Kelly. You’re amazing. That’s really it. I’m constantly in awe of you, what you do with the kids, what you do in your profession, what you do in the community, and I would say you inspire
me to be a better person, but I frankly think you just
make me a better person. So, it’s been amazing. You’ve been through all of this with me. I couldn’t have asked for a
better partner on this ride, and I love you, and thank you very much. And with that, thank you
again to the Varsity Club, congrats to all the other inductees, wonderful night,
(loud clapping) thank you so much.
(loud clapping) Thank you.
(loud clapping)

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