Written Senior Perspectives: Kristen Casey, Caroline Walters

Written Senior Perspectives: Kristen Casey, Caroline Walters

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.

Kristen Casey, Caroline Walters, Women’s Volleyball, Team Co-Captains
Hometown: La Jolla, Calif. / San Mateo, Calif.
Concentration: Government / Sociology
House Affiliation: Cabot / Leverett

Coming into Harvard in the fall of our freshman year, we were immediately adopted into the volleyball family. We were provided with an instant group of friends, mentors, and academic advisors before classes even began. We chose to spend most of our time outside of the gym with teammates as well - seeing each other once or twice a day at workouts wasn’t enough. I don’t think that either one of us could have predicted the fierce bonds that we would forge with one another and our teammates. Each year brought new talent and new friendships. It seemed like as each new season began, the friendships we had with new and returning teammates alike were strengthened. It is no coincidence that our on-court performance improved as well.

Our freshman season, we finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, and our dream of winning an Ivy League championship seemed a lofty and improbable goal. We got better and better each year, improving our work ethic in practice and the weight room and solidifying the importance of working together. Our exceptional team chemistry and dedication to team goals eventually set us apart from the rest of the conference, earning us the Ivy League championship this past season. The women on this team have played selflessly, and have consistently valued overall team success more than their individual performances. We play for one another and we were constantly inspired by our teammates to work hard and improve every day. It didn’t always come easy, but those challenging days are the ones that defined us the most as a team. We were certainly tested after losing two out of our first three conference games this year, knowing that if we wanted to win the league we would have to win every single game for the remainder of the season. Rather than crumbling under the enormity of the task ahead, we came together as a team and worked harder than ever to accomplish that goal. Although there were some close calls along the way, and we were forced to play more than a couple matches to five sets, we eventually won every game and clinched the Ivy League championship. Words cannot describe the feeling and it is safe to say that neither of us will soon forget it. We are proud to have called these girls our teammates and friends and are grateful for the way they have enriched and will continue to enrich our lives.

It has been such a privilege and an honor not only to be a member of the Harvard volleyball program but also a part of the larger community of Harvard student-athletes. Though it is nearly impossible to imagine what our Harvard experience would have been like had we not been on a varsity team, we know for certain it would not have been nearly as fun or rewarding. There is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst all of the different teams on campus, and more often than not the people in the crowd cheering you on are your fellow athletes. Bonds among student-athletes are built on common experiences and values. We all understand what its like to walk across the river at 7 a.m. during the freezing winter months for a lift, or spend the weekend traveling for hours on a Peter Pan bus for a game. We work hard to effectively balance school with our varsity sports and we share a common love of physical competition. In an academic environment that tends to emphasize individual performance and personal success, being a Harvard student-athlete has been a consistent reminder of the importance of teamwork, self-sacrifice, and commitment to collective goals. We are proud to be included in such an exceptional group of athletes and people and we would not trade our experiences for anything.