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.
Jessica Perillo, Softball & Women's Ice Hockey
Hometown: Cave Creek, Ariz.
House Affiliation: Adams
“Everything happens for a reason.” This may just seem like another cliché quote to characterize adversity, but it has become the quote that has defined my experience as a student-athlete. After my first couple seasons in a Harvard uniform were plagued with illnesses and injuries, I decided to end my playing career two years earlier than I would have hoped. Despite ending my days as a Harvard softball player, I did not want to cut my time as a member of the Harvard softball team short. While I could no longer make an impact on the field, I still wanted to do whatever I could to continue contributing towards our success. I did not want adversity to trump my love for a team and a program that I cherish so much. So, I asked (more like begged) Coach to let me retire, and stay on to serve as the manager. Little did I know that this decision would end up becoming an incredible experience in and of itself.
Looking back on the initial transformation of my role from player to manager, I never would have thought that it would have transpired into what it has become at the end of my senior year. The opportunities and experiences I have been presented with as a member of this athletic community are indescribable.
I have been blessed to be a member of the Harvard softball program for four years. While my experience from freshman year to senior year has drastically changed, there are some things that remain constant: the traditions that characterize HSB. This program is marked by a tradition of excellence, and being a part of this legacy creates a bond that connects the many generations of Harvard softball players. What makes this bond so unique are the immeasurable small memories that combine to create one significant experience. From belting Celine as a team, to creating dugout cheers, to rewarding ourselves with frozen treats in the locker room, my teammates and our crazy antics are what have made this experience so unique. I am very grateful that Coach Allard let me remain a part of this team. I would have accepted any role she asked of me in order to remain a part of something so special as HSB.
But not only have I been a part of the softball team, I was also able to join the women’s ice hockey team as their manager this year as well. I still don’t really know how I was fortunate enough to have earned this opportunity, but it is one that I definitely did not take for granted. My role on the hockey team originated as the resident superfan and “good luck charm.” However, after getting a feel for an administrative role with the softball team, I wanted to be able to contribute my time and energy to the hockey program and their success as well. Coach Stone and her coaching staff let me join their program during one of the best seasons in Harvard hockey history. The team welcomed me with open arms, adopted me as one of their own, and almost instantaneously, I found myself fully emerged with them on their journey.
I was able to hold the Beanpot trophy over my head at center ice after we upset No. 1 Boston College to give it its first loss of the season. I then found myself lugging the ECAC Championship trophy on to the bus after we defeated Cornell to earn our spot in the NCAA tournament. Next thing I know, I am standing in the locker room listening to Coach Stone’s pregame speech moments prior to the start of a National Championship game. I never thought I would have experienced moments such as these during my time here, but it is a true testament to the opportunities that Harvard athletics has to offer.
I may have suffered through countless injuries and numerous hospital visits that led me to ending my softball career early. But, because of that, I had the opportunity to be a part of not only one, but two very successful programs. Each program is special in its own way. Each program has created its own history, its own traditions, and its own memories. But what they have in common is that they are two small clips that combine to help form the bigger picture that is the Department of Harvard Athletics. What I have learned from my experience as a member of the Harvard athletic community is that we are all a part of something special. Regardless of what department you work in, what sport you play, or what role you may have, we all contribute towards what makes Harvard so special. And that something special, that can never be replaced.