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.
Matt Koran, Football, Team CCaptain
Hometown: Joliet, Ill.
House Affiliation: Mather
Overall, my four years on the Harvard football team have been truly remarkable and I look back fondly on nearly every moment that I spent on that side of the Charles. Some of the most crowning achievements include winning three Ivy League championships, ending with a 36-4 overall record, and going unbeaten against Yale. These are successes that all of my fellow seniors can carry with them for the rest of their lives. But I think most of us would agree that it was what went on behind the scenes that we cherish the most. It’s the feeling of getting ready in the locker room before a game, walking off the practice field after having an exceptional practice, or celebrating a big victory with Coach Murphy jumping off a chair onto all of our shoulders that we will look back on and miss the most. It’s these moments that we know will be impossible to replicate outside of Harvard football and the ones that we appreciate the most.
Four years on the Harvard football team requires an enormous amount of sacrifice and commitment, but every guy that makes it through these four years will tell you that it was the most rewarding and transformative experience in their lives. Harvard football teaches you many things about life, but most importantly it teaches you how to be a man. Waking up before the sun rises and walking across the bridge in sub-zero temperatures to strap up the pads and go full contact is not for the weak of heart. It takes a mental toughness that is paralleled by very few in this world. It requires you to dig deep and find the motivation to keep going and to push through the immense amount of adversity that you are facing both physically and mentally. But it is this familiarity with being on the edge of breaking that allows a Harvard football player to overcome any adversity or obstacle in his way, both on and off the field. A Harvard football player is a man with character, resilience, fortitude, reliability, and integrity, and he will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Coach Murphy has taught me many things throughout my four years on the team, but the most powerful concept, and something that I will take with me for the rest of my life, is his saying that “we are entitled to nothing”. This is a very powerful thought and buying into this principle is what allowed us to be the first team in Harvard history to win three consecutive Ivy League titles. But this motto transcends the football field, it is something that motivates me in every aspect of my life and pushes me to be the best in everything that I do. As the 142nd captain, this is what I stressed the most in the off-season and I believe it is the reason we were able to have the success that we did. We had a saying this year that “anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing, and moderation is for cowards”. We utilized this motto to outwork all of our opponents and used it to push ourselves to greatness. This is the attitude of a Harvard football player and this is what we will take with us when we leave football behind.
For the entire Harvard football family, the 2015 campaign will be one that is remembered forever. Coming off back-to-back Ivy League championships and attempting to be the first team in Harvard football history to three-peat, it is safe to say the odds were heavily stacked against us. However, equipped with an unparalleled amount of grit and a tenacious desire to be the best, our team was able to overcome almost every obstacle in our way. We finished with a 9-1 overall record and reserved our place in the history books as the first Harvard football team to win three consecutive Ivy League championships. The season was filled with great moments of triumph and success, but the greatest of them all was the brotherhood that we forged in the process. The bonds and memories that we now all share will last with us the rest of our lives.