The 2016 Senior Perspectives is the 11th 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 2016 Senior Perspectives, click here.
Brooke Dickens, Women's Soccer
Hometown: Bakersfield, Calif.
House Affiliation: Cabot
This past weekend, the women’s soccer team finally had our end of the year banquet. As we looked back on the 2015 season, and even further to the three seasons before, I couldn’t help but feel so many emotions as it became official: my career with Harvard women’s soccer has finally come to a close.
For me, being an athlete at Harvard has been nothing short of a crazy rollercoaster. These past four years, I have experienced some of the highest moments of my life and also some of the lowest.
It all began June 2012 when I got a surprise call telling me I had been accepted off the waitlist. “Welcome to the Harvard College Class of 2016, Brooke!” Hearing this, I did what any overly emotional person would do: I started crying. Immediately after, I called Coach Ray to tell him the news, and from that moment onwards I was No. 23 on the Harvard women’s soccer team.
Yet, when I got to Harvard I faced a lot of challenges. I had a lot of maturing to do, and it was really difficult. In a place where everyone seemed to be so much smarter than me, so much better at their sport, and just all around cooler, I struggled with my confidence. But in the final game of my freshman season – a game in which I played less than five minutes – I scored the winning goal in the last five seconds. It was the highlight of my year, and still one of the highlights of my entire college experience.
Moving forward from that season I still faced a lot of challenges – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Being an athlete at Harvard forces you to face these challenges, and learn how to overcome them. When every fiber of your being is tested by adversity, it humbles you. But in the process, you realize how to believe in yourself and you come to understand that you are not alone – there are incredible people around to encourage you, support you, and guide you as you grow.
The support at Harvard is unparalleled. From the coaches, to the athletic trainers, to the administration, to my fellow athletes and teammates – most significantly my teammates. Being on a team at Harvard is unlike any other experience. Every day you get to spend time with some of the most incredible people you will ever meet – people who excel at their sport, in the classroom, in the science labs or in the theater, and yet they still find time to always be there for you as friends, cheerleaders, and even mentors.
My teammates and I have been able to do life together here at Harvard, traveling up and down the east coast, to California, and even to Italy. In all of our time together, we’ve bonded over our shared love of soccer and our commitment to representing ourselves and our university with excellence. But above all, we’ve bonded over our love for each other – and that is something that stretches way beyond just our four years here.
People often ask me what the best part of my Harvard experience has been, especially now that I’m about to graduate. To that I can confidently say three words: Harvard women’s soccer. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I am who I am today because of this program, and while it was a wild ride, it’s one rollercoaster I would gladly ride again and again.