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.
Michael Mancinelli, Football
Hometown: Denver, Colo.
Concentration: Electrial Engineering (SB)
House Affliliation: Currier House
Since I was a freshman in high school, I have had the extraordinary experience of being part of extremely successful football programs. All told, three Colorado State Championships and three Ivy League Championships have been won along with 88 out of 95 games. Being part of these teams has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on what makes successful programs, successful players, and successful experiences.
There have been many commonalities between the ways Dave Logan ran my high school team and how Tim Murphy has coached me the last four years at Harvard. Most importantly is the emphasis on character. Strength in character is the center point of Harvard Athletics. It is the base on which all other successful qualities are built. At the collegiate level, this type of intangible quality is recruited and is expertly attracted by Coach Murphy. Harvard football not only attracts players with strong character, the program continues to build upon this character year after year. Through early morning workouts, fighting through tough wins and losses, and powering through illness and injury, I have developed into a person with a resilient will, positive attitude, and strong work ethic.
Let’s be honest, in general there are a lot of positive experiences associated with collegiate athletics, but there are a throng of negative experiences too. When I was a senior in high school I struggled with the decision to play college football. I am often frustrated by the attitude and culture surrounding Division I football players who have no interest in their academic pursuits and use their athletic success to avoid taking responsibility for self-betterment through education. Additionally, many of the coaches recruiting me at the time were not enthusiastic about my desire to pursue a bachelor of science in engineering. In fact some of them said, flat out, that I would not be able to pursue my academic interests. However, I was able to make the decision to play football once I began talking to Harvard.
The beauty of Harvard Athletics is that it offers a high level of competition found in Division I football without many of the negatives mentioned above. Each athlete has their academic pursuits in mind, and the coaches are enthusiastic about student’s academic interests. I cannot thank Coach Murphy enough for allowing me the opportunity to pursue summer internships away from Cambridge and for putting up with my numerous class conflicts with football practice. Because of his understanding and support of my academic schedule, I was able to pursue two goals very important to me. This multi-faceted focus has contributed to the team’s success throughout the years.
Coach Murphy and his staff have always emphasized mental and physical resilience on the field, and respect and community service off the field. This training and education of a strong mind and a healthy body is unique at Harvard. This institution allotted me the landscape to push myself to my physical and mental limits. Allowed me to pursue my academic, career, and athletic goals without compromise and has left me with deep gratitude.
Harvard Athletics has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Training and competing with a group of over 100 men under the guidance of dozens of coaches, trainers, and administrators has offered me an experience unparalleled in any other sport. Learning to function as a productive part of such a large program, developing into a player and contributing to team leadership have left me better prepared to enter the professional world.
My positive experiences would not have been possible without the players and coaches I have interacted with throughout the last four years. I would like to end by thanking the coaches, trainers, athletics staff, and most of all my teammates for an unforgettable experience.