Written Senior Perspectives: Brian Kaneshige

Written Senior Perspectives: Brian Kaneshige

The 2015 Senior Perspectives is the 10th 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 2015 Senior Perspectives, click here.

Brian Kaneshige, Men’s Fencing, Team Co-Captain
Hometown: Maplewood, N.J.
Concentration: East Asian Studies
House Affiliation: Quincy

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.

By this standard, an outsider could surmise that my time on HFT was a mixed bag. We won some regular season tournaments and finished dead last at others. At the Ivy League Championships, we won outright once, tied for first twice, and finished second once. We never came close to winning an NCAA championship, and had to endure watching rival schools capture national titles in two separate years.

Yet, I will always consider myself to have been part of the best team I could have ever dreamed of. I will always consider HFT to have been the perfect team. My fondest memories of my time as a student-athlete at Harvard have nothing to do with wins and losses, and to me that is the true beauty of HFT.

Instead, I remember the bus rides and the team dinners. I laugh at the inside jokes we developed and the crazy stories we shared. I miss coming to practice and to lift, and knowing that I’m working to hone my craft in the sport I love with people that I love even more.

Four years ago, I would have never considered that “winning” would ultimately take a backseat to the “experience.” Yet, here I am, several weeks away from graduating from Harvard, and all I yearn for is more time with HFT. Under the guidance of my coaches and in the presence of my teammates, I grew up in the most important way – not as an athlete, but as a human being. I realized that success is not directly linked to what the end result is, but rather is about the journey there. Success is not being the perfect fencer. It is being the perfect teammate. 

After all, being the best fencer on any given day is unpredictable, and even a “perfect” performance can be ruined by a refereeing error that inextricably alters who wins and who loses. Sometimes that element of luck works out in your favor, and sometimes it snatches victory away from you. Through HFT, I learned that if I give an honest effort to always help my teammates, to be there for my teammates, to always give back to my teammates – it wouldn’t matter if we had luck on our side or not. Ultimately, we would be successful because we had established an unbreakable bond that could not be taken away from us by chance.

And to the coaches and teammates who helped me achieve the ultimate success, thank you. As the proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and I can confidently say that I’ve grown up into a better person and teammate because of all of you. Together, we worked tirelessly to continue making HFT to be the closest, most tight-knit team in all of college fencing, and regardless of the results on my collegiate fencing resume, I know that I achieved success in the truest sense of the word.