Senior Perspective: Men's Basketball's Doug Miller

Senior captains and representatives of varsity teams at Harvard contributed viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard. Each year the Senior Perspectives are compiled into a book and handed out at the Senior Letterwinner’s Dinner.

Senior Perspectives thus forms a valuable portion of each team’s legacy to sport at Harvard and to the permanent record built here by our varsity athletes. Throughout the summer, these senior essays will be posted to for all to see.

My four years as a Harvard athlete have been amazing. They have helped me grow as a basketball player, as a teammate, and as a leader.  There have been ups and downs, celebrations and frustrations, successes and failures.  As a team we had some memorable victories, but we were never able to capture an Ivy League crown.  Right now it is easy to remember that particular stat, but I know that down the road I will not dwell on it.  I will always remember how proud I am to be a Harvard athlete.  Most importantly, I am proud of what it means and often what it takes to be one here and in the rest of the Ivy League.

At Harvard, you are always facing an uphill battle as an athlete.  The college itself does not focus on its sports teams or take pride in its athletes.  Many view sports merely as another extracurricular.  Obviously it is much more to us and has defined many of our lives since childhood.  Whether you played high school football in Texas where the Friday night game was a showcase event, or you played in an AAU tournament in Vegas where hundreds of coaches came to see LeBron, the atmosphere in the Ivy League is something different.  Most teams aren’t playing for the glory or the press.  Scholarships aren’t driving our performance, and we aren’t deciding when we are going to enter the draft.  At Harvard, every athlete must value the game and the team.  In this case, it is not a cliché or an exaggeration.  You must have a true love and respect for your sport to complete your athletic career in the Ivy League.  That is what makes Harvard Athletics so special.  The commitment to the team and an undying love for the sport make the Harvard athlete so unique.

Being a student at Harvard can be challenging in itself.  When combined with varsity athletics, the balance between academics and a commitment to your team can make it difficult on anyone, and sometimes impossible.  There are no mandatory study sessions, or team tutors helping you with problem sets or making sure that you go to class.  As a Harvard athlete you are expected to figure it out.  While there are many great resources available to you, the responsibility lies on the student-athlete.  And responsibility is the main thing that athletics have helped me learn at Harvard.  Sure I have had to sacrifice on both sides of the river, but I have learned to take responsibility for those decisions.

Being an athlete at Harvard was certainly the most defining part of my college education, and it would not have been possible without the support of so many people, from family to alumni and members of the athletic department and facilities staff.  I would specifically like to thank the 2009-2010 team for such a memorable season.  As a group we had an amazing run, and we especially appreciated the increased fan support that made Lavietes one of the best gyms in the Ivy League.