Returning to GoCrimson.com for a fourth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrative. For a full list of blog entries, click here.
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February 7, 2018
To be the most successful athlete that I am capable of being, I must play for more than just myself. To be the most successful athlete that I am capable of being, I must play for more than just my teammates. To reach my highest potential, I play for my community. As a softball player this would mean playing for the people who will trek to watch a game in 40 degree weather in March. This would also mean playing for the people who supported me in my dream to achieve greatness.
But, I was always stuck with how do I say thank you to that many people? How do I say thank you to the numerous people who have helped me on the way and who will continue to help me as I push to my greatest heights? It seems virtually impossible to even make a dent in showing gratitude towards all of my supporters, but the only way to even start this thanks is by giving back to the community that has given me so much.
A couple members of the Harvard softball team, myself included, give back to the community by working with the Special Olympics. The athletes we worked with were young adults ranging from 21-32 from the Boston area. Before Christmas break, my teammates and I would join other fellow Harvard athletes on Kumnock Field from 5:30-7:00 on Mondays every week. During that hour and a half we were honored to be in the presence of athletes who were filled with immense joy to play flag football. We would start the practice by stretching then running drills: catching, throwing, running. Then, for the final 30 minutes a very organized chaos would break loose as the athletes scrimmage against each other.
At the end of each practice, we celebrated with a nutritious recovery meal of Dominos Pizza. Also within this time, we all participated in announcing “awards.” This entailed each athlete, or coach, announcing the “MVP” of each skill. For example, I always got, “best snapper,” because that seemed to be the only thing I could get right in football. But other rewards entailed, “best touchdown,” “best run,” and the one that was always regarded the highest, “best quarterback.”
I remember my first Monday evening, as I sat there and ate a slice of Hawaiian pizza, the feeling of love that flowed from each athlete. Their appreciation for this time to be the star and to be recognized for something other than their disability was something that warmed my heart. It also reminded me why I play. It reminded me of my love for the game. This is what community is. Community is giving back. Community is showing your biggest fans that you are their biggest fans.
So say thank you.