Senior season. What a journey. In the end, this season was not really about winning. It was about much more than that. It was about coming to the gym every day, despite our disappointment, and remaining committed to each other and to improving every single day. It consisted of fighting our way through many battles- sometimes coming out victorious and other times emerging with defeat. It was about recognizing that I was a part of something a lot greater than myself.
With graduation just days away, I can confidently conclude that being on the Radcliffe varsity lightweight team has been the most rewarding, educational, valuable part of my time at Harvard. My time in Weld Boathouse provided me a setting to develop my goals, assess my strengths and weaknesses, and learn more about myself.
Over the last four years, words cannot describe my time with the Harvard women’s ice hockey team. The moment I stepped on campus in my freshman fall, I immediately gained 20 new sisters. Harvard hockey has always been and will continue to always be a family, and that is one of the coolest things about this program.
I have spent the last four years competing in the throwing events for the varsity track & field team. Through success, setbacks, disappointments, and learning how to respond, I have had the privilege to grow and learn from my teammates and coaches. To reflect on a single meet or performance would ignore others of equal value, thus I want to focus on several large takeaways from my education through athletics.
At the beginning of my senior season, my childhood friend who had just finished her varsity sport career inspired me to appreciate every moment throughout my final season; to look around every day at practice, enjoy it, smile, and be proud to wear the crimson “Harvard,” because we are the only ones lucky enough to play
The past two years I have stood up at the end of season banquet to talk about our graduating seniors and it seems quite surreal that it is now my turn to graduate. Somehow, it was easier talking about others’ experiences rather than my own, but what still holds true from my comments to them, is that even though the seniors are leaving, it really isn’t a goodbye. If there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind, let me assure you that being a part of the Harvard squash family goes way beyond whatever happens on court and lasts well beyond your four-year stint in Cambridge.
An average sprinter from a small town in Wisconsin, I came into Harvard just feeling truly lucky to be a part of a Division I program. Freshman year I was awestruck by how much talent I was surrounded by and that feeling hasn’t faded. This team has surrounded me with the fastest, strongest and most extraordinary women who have helped me learn and grow on and off the track. These women have taught me what hard work and determination truly mean, have pushed me to my limits and have helped me realize things that I never thought possible.
I remember laughing to myself when I received a form in the mail from Harvard track and field requesting athletic and academic information. “Hello Harvard” definitely crossed my mind. I knew the school only by its academic reputation, and I hadn’t really considered the Ivy League when looking at schools to run for. Fortunately, my dad told me to be open to everything and I sent the return form. Six months later I flew out to visit and was sold well before the weekend had ended.
A lot can happen in four years. Since this time in 2011 President Obama got reelected, four seasons of Game of Thrones took over the airwaves, and Harvard beat Yale every time - although that last one is not really a shocker. I am a senior now, and for me, the last four years have been a whirlwind of facts, emotions, papers, p-sets, learning, forgetfulness, and a whole lot of ballroom dance.
After months of fundraising with the help of our parents, friends, coaches and the local Cambridge community, in January 2015 Harvard field hockey was fortunate enough to travel to Argentina on our first-ever international trip. During the trip, we were not only able to consume vast amounts of steak, learn to tango, ride horses and fraternize with gauchos (oh and play field hockey against teams from one of the best field hockey countries in the world), but we were also blessed with the most humbling experience.
I picked up my first basketball when I was about six years old and could have never imagined what it would feel like to finally set it down. My time here at Harvard, as a member of the women’s basketball team, has been the most rewarding experience of my life and although it is over, this team and Harvard Athletics will remain with me forever.
“Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better from the experience.” This is the quote that hangs from a tattered and worn piece of paper that I’ve carried with me from my small double-bedroom in Pennypacker Hall to where it hangs now, in my Winthrop House senior dorm room, holding on by its last thread of scotch tape. When I printed it for summer training motivation five years ago, I didn’t realize what a mantra it would become for not only me, but also the people around me.
Being a member of the Harvard Wrestling team was a large part of my experience. I was a four-year starter at heavyweight, I was a three-time conference placewinner, and this year I finally qualified for the national tournament. The first three years of my career were extremely inconsistent; I had shown that I could be really tough, but that was only on occasion. This wasn’t due to a lack of motivation, I wanted to be an All-American and I worked hard but I just didn’t know how.
Since I was a little girl, running around the diamond with a glove too big for my hand, the game of softball has always been a constant in my life. No matter what was going on off the field, the game remained the same, providing a sense of joy from the moment I stepped between the lines. As we face the final weekend of our regular season and what could be my last time in a Harvard uniform, I have started to reflect on all that the game has truly given me.
Coming into Harvard in the fall of our freshman year, we were immediately adopted into the volleyball family. We were provided with an instant group of friends, mentors, and academic advisors before classes even began. We chose to spend most of our time outside of the gym with teammates as well - seeing each other once or twice a day at workouts wasn’t enough.
Senior year has certainly been the highpoint of my athletic career. With training and racing going better than ever, this year has been full of new lifetime best performances on the track and trail. Though I love the simple pleasure of running fast, the true joy and satisfaction comes from the memories and experiences I have built with my teammates.
I hung up the phone with the Harvard women’s soccer coach, Ray Leone, choked back my tears of joy, stepped out of my bedroom, and told my Dad: “I think I’m going to Harvard.” My dad, a man who I had never seen cry, wasn’t quite as successful at holding back his tears. Months later, when I received my official acceptance into Harvard, I could finally stop holding my breath. I was granted the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance that so many kids dream about, and I was lucky enough to get that chance.
As an athlete, you’re hard-wired to define success based on wins and losses. Winning a competition means that for one moment in time, you were the best. Likewise, losing indicates a failure of some sort; your performance was not worthy enough of victory.
?Everything happens for a reason.? This may just seem like another cliché quote to characterize adversity, but it has become the quote that has defined my experience as a student-athlete. After my first couple seasons in a Harvard uniform were plagued with illnesses and injuries, I decided to end my playing career two years earlier than I would have hoped.
It’s a family affair. Being a member of the Harvard Athletics community means experiencing a level of tradition, excellence and bond that is unparalleled. In my four years here, Harvard softball and family have become one in my heart. Harvard softball is more than a team playing a game with a series of wins and losses every spring. It’s a group of determined and well-rounded women, united by a common passion for the sport.
It was a little over two years ago when I started hearing the voice inside my head. I’m about to submit an Economics paper that could use another edit, but before I close the laptop the voice reminds me: “Last part, strongest part.” I roll out of bed and into the bathroom and grab my toothbrush: “I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I am habit,” rings in my ear.
Our final race at the 2014 IRA National Championships taught me an unforgettable lesson of mental toughness. To prepare for this final race we visualized winning, we visualized losing, we visualized coming from behind and edging out our competition by tenths of a second. We remained behind for most of the race, and from my position in four-seat I could see the stern of the opposing team’s hull bobbing at the periphery of my vision. They seemed impossibly far ahead, but for the first time I found that I was not afraid of the race.
Making the move to the U.S. was a big step for me as an international student. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I found myself nervous, but also excited about what was to come. In high school I trained alone and never had the chance to train with a team.
Learning from some of the top economists in the world at Harvard has been an enormous blessing. I’ve had the chance to take seven economics courses, sufficient for a secondary, and have thoroughly enjoyed the subject. Among the concepts I’ve learned, macroeconomic lessons on saving and investment underpin complicated models and theories useful for understanding our world. As investment increases, a country or business’ capital stock grows. My time with Harvard men’s volleyball has also been a story of investment and increases in capital.
A recruit once asked me where my favorite place was on the Harvard campus. This was a question I had never really thought about before. After taking a second to gather my thoughts, my answer was Palmer Dixon. A couple teammates that were standing around listening to the conversation laughed, thinking I was being my usual sarcastic and joking self. For once this was not the case.
never thought I could get so much out of a single experience as I did being a part of the Harvard women’s tennis team. Looking back, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and nostalgia for all that I experienced with my teammates. A special bond forms when you play side-by-side with someone in the final third set of a match, when you lose your voice cheering for them, when you see each other through your greatest wins and toughest losses.
Quiet and strong. 1, 2, 3, RADCLIFFE.” At the beginning of practice, at the end of practice and before we go to the line to race, head coach Liz O’Leary would draw in her rowers, connecting the power within the tight circle, and lead the chant. A tradition that remains since Radcliffe crew first started, continues to tie the current and all future women of Radcliffe together.
As I reflect on my years as a Harvard student-athlete, I think of the significance baseball has had on my life and the lives of my teammates. I am one who truly believes baseball is a metaphor for life. Consider all the expressions that baseball has given our everyday conversation.
I am honored to have spent the previous four years at Harvard. Having the opportunity to attend a school where everyone is the best at what they do is extremely inspiring. I take pride in the women’s basketball program and will always remember how it felt to compete with the Harvard name on the front of my jersey.