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.
Courtney Hooton, Women's Golf
Hometown: Del Mar, Calif.
House Affiliation: Mather
“Stay inside yourself.” This is possibly the most confusing advice I have received from a coach. My assistant coach, Naree Song, gave me this recommendation as a general comment about my golf game. She said this and walked away. I inquired what she meant, and she just repeated, “Just stay inside yourself.”
I have taken some time to think about what this means. My first assessment of this statement was to think that she must have noticed I was not staying inside myself. I must have been outside myself? But what did that even mean? I felt these existential questions were meant for my classroom readings of Nietzsche or Kierkegaard not my pragmatic world on the golf course.
Over time I began to understand what Naree was telling me. She was sharing a valuable lesson that is equally applicable to all of us in our lives away from sports. Naree was instructing me to bring myself to a new level of mindfulness. I was not focused. Her coaching was a suggestion to be entirely present, focused and grateful for where I am.
All of us occasionally forget where we are. We slip outside of our self. We lose touch with our surroundings and what we have achieved. As athletes, we forget the original passion and desire that drove us to achieve ever-higher goals. I sometimes allow myself to forget how desperately I wanted to get to where I am today. I missed social events to get extra time at practice, or went to sleep early before a tournament instead of spending time with friends. These sacrifices were made in pursuit of my dream of donning the capital H on my hat and over my chest.
Becoming and being a student-athlete at Harvard is not without its pains. I am from California, and I will be the first to tell you spending four hours on a golf course in thirty-degree weather with rainfall and swirling winds IS NOT FUN. But, it is so worth it. To interact with the brightest students, the most talented athletes, and the wisest faculty is an unparalleled experience. The experience I have gotten at Harvard is more than I ever could have imagined.
From mentorship from coaches to everyday advice from peers, being a part of Harvard Athletics has allowed me to develop in several facets of my life. The person I was when I began my time at Harvard, would hardly recognize the person I am today. I have struggled, I have persevered, I have failed, I have succeeded; put simply, I have grown.
So, when I catch myself going through the motions whether it be at practice or strolling through the yard, I remember Naree’s words – stay inside yourself. I don’t ever want to forget how lucky I am to be exactly where I am right now.
Perhaps, Naree was referring to my swing plane being too far outside on my backswing, but as with schoolwork, the best lessons take time and effort to fully internalize and bring to life.