Hall of Fame:
Chris still holds the Ivy League record for career goals (19) and points in a season (34). All three teams he played for were ranked in the top 10 nationally, and the Crimson's record during his career was 35-4-1. "Papa" was a three-year starter and a First Team All-America in his senior year.
A native of St. Louis, he was the leading scorer in that city in both soccer and football (he was a running back), and still holds the city record for most goals in a game (10, which was nearly tied in 1997 by his son, who had 9 in a game).
(His thoughts on being inducted to the Harvard Hall of Fame:)
My family immigrated to the United States in 1956. To my knowledge, no Papagianis had ever attended any university. You can imagine my great uncertainty while walking across the "Yard," attempting to grasp the enormity of Harvard.
Perhaps many of my classmates searched for ways to facilitate the adjustment to this demanding institution. The situation reminded me of my youth, as I sought acceptance into my local "Dogtown" neighborhood. A kindhearted coach saw through my shyness and fear showing me one way to ease the adjustment. It was on the playing field. At Harvard, when others gained confidence in theatre, for example, I reached into my life's experience. My respite came through soccer and another kindly coach, Dana Getchell.
Initially, I grew confident performing on the Harvard soccer field. The mission was clear. Accomplishing goals involved a plan that was, by this time, second nature for me. However, I gained more than I ever imagined.
At that time, only Harvard could have assembled a team comprised of students from such a global neighborhood: England, Greece, Iran, Gambia, Nigeria, Norway, Yugoslavia, Jamaica, and America. Never before had I witnessed such diversity. To my amazement, we were kindred spirits, We supported and motivated each other beyond any experience I had previously known. Our differences seemed to build team strength and individual growth. this was more than academic excellence for me. I grew to deeply appreciate the real opportu7nit9es Harvard had in store for all of us and I was extremely proud.
Remarkably, spectators appeared in great numbers without marketing fanfare. They, too, were diversified. Students, professors, and Boston residents of all ages and neighborhoods, arrived via the 25 cent subway. They sensed the magic our team created. Their support broadened the impact of my Harvard experience profoundly.
I will never forget the sea of people who attended our Penn game in Philadelphia. This was the largest paying crowd ever gathered to witness an amateur soccer game in the United States. There were over 20,000 fans caught up in out team. The National Championship played at the Orange Bowl a few weeks later was packed with devoted fans as well.
These games received a great deal of attention across the United States. I like to think of Harvard's golden age of soccer as one of the early building blocks of the sport's current level of acceptance in America. The excitement that the World Cup recently brought to the U.S. was reminiscent of Harvard in the early 1970's.
Harvard soccer was not a part of my original plan. But the phenomena simply grew and grew, and my life was never the same. Since those incredible years in Harvard athletics, my undergraduate experience has spilled over into all facets of my life. I subscribe to the lesson that shyness and fear only hold you back from great adventure and opportunity. Diversity and change are good, they open new challenges. Everyone should dream because dreams can come true. They will make an enormous difference in your life. Perhaps most importantly, I know that working hard at something you love works.
Now I look back on the creation of two successful companies and the friendship I share with my wonderful son, which is augmented by our joint interest in sports. I hope he is gifted with an experience which lets him know fellowship, tenacity, teamwork, and undisguised victories.
May 13, 1996
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