Pedal to the Medal

Harvard Goaltender Continues to Push Herself On and Off The Ice

“Twenty minutes or twenty miles to go!”

 

For Harvard University goaltender Beth Larcom, it’s a mantra that continuously pushes her forward, whether it’s heading into the final period of a game or on a paved road away from the rink.

Larcom dedicates a part of her offseason to participating in the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, a 198-mile ride bike trek down the coast of Cape Cod, which raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

 

It’s something of a family affair that started in 1998 when her father brought the family together for a cause that hit close to home.

 

“When I was younger, PMC weekend was basically just a vacation for me. I didn’t really know what it meant until I got a little bit older and understood what the PMC stood for, for my family,” said Larcom, whose mother, Liz, received her final chemo treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at Dana Farber only weeks before Beth was born.

 

Over the past two decades, it has turned into a family affair that has raised a remarkable amount of money. A family newsletter, highlighting Beth and her five siblings, helps spur fundraising efforts ahead of the upcoming year’s PMC.

 

“When I was old enough to ride, my parent’s kind of gave me the go ahead to do that, it was definitely a special moment,” Larcom said. “To get to actually take part in it and go from a spectator and someone who was cheering people on to actually getting to feel what it’s like to be on the other side of it.”

 

 Entering her junior year at Harvard, Larcom has rode in the PMC the past four years.Entering her junior year at Harvard, Larcom has rode in the PMC the past four years.Her involvement dates back to her freshman year in high school in her hometown of Middletown, R.I., where she helped orchestrate a PMC ride for kids. From working with local school boards to procure advertising to going to the town hall for permits, she logged a lot of miles even before she first hopped on a bike.

 

“I think that over a four-to-five-year span, I was getting upwards of $60,000 raised with my involvement,” she said. And that’s just a drop in the bucket of what the family and their Team Tie-Dye network has raised.

 

Her portion of the team ride can vary from year to year. Her most recent contribution was an 85-mile journey from Bourne to Babson. Regardless of the miles, the time she logs on her bike over the summer definitely gives her a leg up on the competition once the puck drops on a new season. 

 

“My fitness level and athleticism make up for the actual difficulty of the ride,” she said. “The biggest issue is then just being able to sit on a bike seat for that long as your butt can get pretty sore.”

 

Her efforts have caught the eye of her Crimson teammates and coaching staff who praise her determination on and off the ice.

 

“Beth is an extremely giving person,” said Harvard head coach Katy Stone. “She has a love for the outdoors and seizes opportunities to give back to her community or a cause that she is passionate about. As a teammate, Beth is committed to excellence and bringing out the best in those around her.”

 

Last season, Larcom appeared in 27 games, notching a 3.01 goals-against average and 90.4 save percentage. It was a big jump in workload from her freshman year when she appeared in eight contests.

 Larcom posted two shutouts for Team USA at the Under-18 Women's World Championships, helping lead her country to a gold medalLarcom posted two shutouts for Team USA at the Under-18 Women's World Championships, helping lead her country to a gold medal

 Her goal heading into this year’s campaign is to help the Crimson climb up the ECAC leaderboard after an uncharacteristic down season last year. To do that she will have to hold off some tough competition for playing time between the pipes.

 

“Roles change every year, we have a young goalie that’s an incoming freshman this year as well. Nothing’s ever guaranteed, you can never be complacent with those kinds of things,” she said. “You have to earn your spot every year. I’m definitely excited to be back, be back at it and battle for that starting goaltending spot.”

 

Before joining the Crimson, Larcom helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2016 IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championship, where she notched a pair of shutouts, including a 4-0 victory over Sweden in the semifinal. 

 

“It’s something that as a kid you always kind of dream of, to represent your country and play for a national team. Any capacity where you’re able to do that, whether at the U-18 level or the senior team level, it’s pretty special. It’s kind of the pinnacle of what you work towards as an amateur athlete, especially as a female athlete that’s really the highest you can go, “ she said. 

 

“Looking back on that, I still have my gold medal at home, still have my jersey, whenever I’m home and seeing those things it’s always pretty special. It was definitely a special tournament and the process of being a part of that.”

 

Larcom is looking to bring out the best in herself, knowing the increased workload that this year entails and the responsibility of playing the game’s most important position and the willingness to always improve.

 

“I would definitely say the mental part of the game,” Larcom said. “In a college season, at least an Ivy League, ECAC, you’re playing around 30 regular season games. Especially on top of school work and extra curriculars that you do, it can be a lot to stay mentally locked in and focused over that whole period of time.”

 

She’ll need that as she gets ready for another long, hard ride this season.

 

“Especially as a goalie you can’t let up on that,” she said. “So much of the game is mental, working on being able to stay checked in and stay focused throughout the entire season.”

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