The 2016 Senior Perspectives is the 11th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.
For a complete listing of 2016 Senior Perspectives, click here.
Alex Schlossman, Men's Volleyball
Hometown: Canyon Country, Calif.
House Affiliation: Kirkland
“Why don’t you just quit?” It’s a question my blockmates have asked me numerous times over the past few years, a question I have never taken the time to answer. Why didn’t I quit volleyball? I rode the bench for nearly all of my first three seasons. Even when I finally broke into the starting lineup this year I became a role player. Understandably, from an outsider’s perspective, it seemed like the time and energy I was putting into volleyball didn’t pay off. So, why wouldn’t I have just quit?
I’ll be honest; there were times when I asked myself the same question. Sometimes these internal debates happened late at night in Kirkland library as I struggled with an economics problem set. Other times it was when I got out of bed and couldn’t raise my arms above my head without agonizing pain. On the surface, life would have been so much easier without volleyball. My knees and back wouldn’t have constantly been aching from the hours of training. I could have spent my afternoons outside enjoying the Charles instead of on the fourth floor of the MAC. It’s something I’m sure every athlete considered at some point during his or her time at Harvard. For me, it was never much of a debate.
By far my favorite part about Harvard men’s volleyball has been the fact that being on our team has become more like being part of a new family. Much of this is due to our roster size, which has had as many as fourteen members during my freshman year and as few as eleven this past year. It’s easy to bond with a team this small when you’re stuck on a bus to Pennsylvania for eight hours travelling to conference matches. I also attribute our team dynamic to our standing within the athletic department’s “food chain.” We understand volleyball will never have the same popularity as football or basketball, nor, do we expect that. However, our team doesn’t even get enough likely letters each year to sustain a roster capable of having full six-on-six scrimmages in practice. If asked to do so, I doubt that even half of our team would be able to pick the athletic director out of a lineup. Because of this, HMV has developed an “us against the world” mentality that has brought us closer together and cultivated a unique culture amongst us. When I say that HMV has become my family, I don’t use that term lightly. These men took me in as their own from day one and made me feel at home. They were the ones who helped me adjust to moving across the country to go to college. They supported me and provided advice when I was struggling through classes during my freshman fall. And, when I receive good news, they are just as excited as I am. It’s no wonder I spend the majority of my time outside of volleyball with my teammates.
Years from now, I won’t remember how many kills I had against Princeton senior year or if we beat Sacred Heart sophomore year. What I will remember are the team meals we had after practice and the Saturday nights we spent together. Most of all, I will remember the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. I am forever grateful to Coach Baise for taking a chance on me four years ago. Whether he realizes it or not, he has changed my life. Sure I rode the bench for most of my career, but what’s always mattered is that I went out there every single day and fought for the man next to me because I knew that he was doing the same. While my time as a college volleyball player may be coming to an end, my membership within the HMV family will continue. So why didn’t I just quit? The answer is easy: I would never quit on my family.