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.
Haley Davis, Softball
Hometown: Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
House Affiliation: Mather
My journey on the field began when I was five: a scrawny kid in an oversized baseball cap and the biggest smile on the field. Growing up a diehard Angels fan, I believed that wearing the numbers of my favorite players would make me just as good as they were. I only dreamed of being an Angel one day, and softball was the closest I could get to being one. As I grew older, my relationship with the game changed, and my dream faded. Yet surprisingly, playing softball for Harvard rekindled a child-like love for the game for me.
It really hit me quite recently. I was sitting in my empty locker room, the last one to leave after a long weekend of games, when a wave of emotions and memories hit me. At that point, I was down to a single digit number of softball games left, ever. I was overwhelmed, feeling nostalgic and confused at the same time. Was I sad or content with my softball career ending? Vivid memories of physical and mental exhaustion flooded my mind, making me think retiring wasn’t the saddest thing in the world. I wondered what my college experience would have looked like without the hundreds of hours spent lifting, conditioning, fielding, and hitting. I would have never known the long hours spent in the bubble, the burning pain at the end of every circuit in Palmer Dixon, or the eight hour game days every Saturday and Sunday during league play.
But as I sat in my locker room, I reminded myself that those hundreds of hours across the river were spent exactly the way I wanted to. Being a student-athlete at Harvard has been both the most challenging and most rewarding experience in life so far. Every Harvard student can walk away from their time here having learned an incredible amount, both from classes and from the academically challenging environment. Yet, I feel like the most invaluable lessons I learned in college came from the field. I learned what it meant to be tough: there was no time to be upset after a bad at bat or a miscue in the field because the next pitch was still coming. Failing is a huge part of the game, so the only way to succeed is to both know how to fail and learn to learn quickly from your failures. Softball has shown me how tough I am and that I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to. Harvard softball has shown me what it means to give everything you have, even when you feel like there is nothing left to give.
But most importantly, I’ve learned what it means to play with heart and to fight for something you love. If nothing else, Harvard softball has given me the most incredible group of friends—a group I would do anything for. More so than any other year, my senior year has been all about playing for Harvard softball: my team, my family. The memories are irreplaceable, and being a member of the Harvard softball team is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
At any age past 12, I never would have said that my dream was to play softball in college. But with my senior year coming to close, I realize that my love for the game didn’t disappear just because it started to get a little more messy and challenging; it was always there. I wouldn’t have guessed it at the time, but the struggles and failures throughout my career are things I can look back on with pride and even fondness. The 17 years of blood, sweat, and tears that I dedicated to this game are ones that I would never change. It’s been an incredible roller coaster of a journey, but it is definitely one that I will never regret embarking upon. This year, I realized that Harvard softball allowed my five-year-old self’s dreams to come true. So although my softball career is ending, the lessons, memories, and life-long friendships that have come from my time at Harvard make me realize that my journey really isn’t ending, just changing.