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.
Cole Toner, Football
Hometown: Greenwood, Ind.
House Affiliation: Cabot
As I look back on my time as a member of the Harvard football team, some words that come to mind are thankfulness, pride, and gratification. First, I am thankful for so many people that are part of the program – the coaching staff, equipment staff, the alumni donors, my teammates, and my parents – who make Harvard football the consistent, successful, life-altering program that it is. Secondly, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish here as an individual and as a member a team. Having a record of 36-4 in four years and winning three straight Ivy League championships – which had not been done before at Harvard – was an incredible feat that was achieved through so much hard work and sacrifice by so many individuals who were dedicated to a common goal. Not only that, but I know we are a very respected group of people off the field, too, for our well-rounded efforts in the classroom, campus extra-curriculars, and community service. I am forever proud to call myself a Harvard Crimson. Finally, I feel gratification for the incredible amount of fun I have had as a Harvard football player. No doubt, balancing academics and athletics here at Harvard is a challenge. There are rough patches that can last days or weeks. However, knowing that I had over one hundred friends and teammates that I saw every day that were going through the same stressful, ambitious schedule, I was able to find comfort in that. My teammates made my experience at Harvard the best four years of my life thus far. It was impossible not to enjoy myself around a group of such well-rounded, intelligent, talented, witty guys. I will remember the fun we had forever and I know once I graduate I will miss being part such of a unique group.
Being an Ivy League athlete – more specifically a Harvard football player – taught me so many transcendent values that formed me into a better person; one who is ready to take on the real world and to be capable of having success in whatever I may choose to do with my life. I have learned hard work, dedication to a cause, sacrifice with teammates to reach a common goal, resiliency, toughness, performing under stress, accountability, time management skills, the inevitability of adversity and the ability to fight through adversity, to name a few benefits. Along with those, I now have unparalleled life experiences by living away from home in the city of Boston and living around some of the brightest students in the world. By virtue of being around people who grew up differently than me, have different passions, and will pursue different paths to success I am a more well-rounded member of society. By playing football at Harvard, I have grown – both literally and figuratively – as a human being. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this university and to play football here.