Around The Yard: Ali Peper

Returning to for a fifth 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 narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Ali Peper
Women's Ice Hockey
May 8, 2019

Marathon Monday is a special day for anyone living in the city of Boston. Runners from across the globe flock to the city to compete in one of the biggest races in the world, and the buzz and excitement can be felt even here in Cambridge. As students at Harvard, we are lucky enough to be able to take part in the storied tradition of the marathon, and as members of the women’s ice hockey team, we have the chance to make a small contribution to the day.    

Marathon Monday is rife with tradition and anticipation for thousands of people, but for our team the tradition starts the night before at Viga Italian Eatery. For the past three years, we have gone to Viga to help make sandwiches for the volunteers on race day, and while we are fairly new to the process, Viga has been doing this for years and the employees have the evening down to a science. By the time we arrive the restaurant has been set up like an assembly line with tables covered in various ingredients lining the kitchen. All 23 players, our coaches, and members of our staff are brought in to the center to receive our instructions for the night: split into teams of six, each making one of four types of sandwiches, and don’t stop until all 3,500 are made. 

It wouldn’t be an event with the women’s hockey team if music wasn’t blaring and we weren’t finding small ways to be competitive with one another while having a great time. We soon start competitions to see which team can fill their orders the fastest, or who can wrap sandwiches the best, and our excitement for the following day and taking part in the spirit of the marathon begins to build.

While we get to have a good time with this sandwich making and the chance to watch the race, it is important to us to remember what the Boston Marathon means to this community. Although no one on our current team was at Harvard in 2013, you’d be hard-pressed to find one of us who doesn’t remember where we were on April 15th when we heard the news that two bombs had gone off at the marathon finish, killing three and wounding hundreds of others. The shock and sadness rippled from the Boston area across the country, and the impact of the day is now woven into the fabric of the city. The tradition of the marathon and what it signifies for the strength of Boston is even more important since the events of that day, and being able to experience it is a truly unique feature of attending a Boston area school. This city of Boston and Harvard have changed the lives of every member of our team, so it is important to us to be able to give back to the community in any way we can and find a way to be involved in such an important event.