Written Senior Perspectives: Claire Collins

Written Senior Perspectives: Claire Collins

The 2017 Senior Perspectives is the 12th 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.

Claire Collins, Women's Rugby
Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.
Concentration: History
House Affiliation: Quincy

Not many people go from being a nerd in high school to a jock in college.  But I did.  When I came to Harvard I had no aspirations to be a varsity athlete; now I’m a two-time All-American rugby player. On the field, success is always sweet—it’s especially great being recognized as a force by opposing coaches—but what those coaches don’t see is how being a varsity athlete at Harvard has changed me as a person.  Harvard Athletics taught me how to truly be a part of a team, to put our collective goals ahead of my own individual ones to achieve even greater things.  I learned how to push my physical and mental limits, to do more sprints than I ever thought possible, and to relish the feeling of sore muscles and the look of tired smiles spreading across my teammates faces.  Rugby showed me how empowering sports can be.  It taught me how to use and celebrate my physical strength and aggression, to work even harder after the mistake or missed opportunity because there is always time left on the clock.  I have become a more resilient, more compassionate, and more determined person due to my time as a Harvard athlete.

There are lots of people to thank for this growth: Bob Scalise and the Athletic Department as a whole, who elevated Radcliffe Rugby from a club to a varsity sport in 2013; my coach who guided me through the exciting, demanding sport, and emphasizing both the physical and mental skills of being a great rugby player; two of my roommates, a rower and a swimmer, who showed me what dedication and commitment to athletics looked like every day; every other friend I have on this campus, who kept me happy and sane.

The people who kept me coming back to the pitch, who motivated me through every morning lift, each brutal set of heiny muellers and MAS runs are, of course, my teammates. Freshman year, they welcomed me with open arms and taught me everything about what it means to be part of the Radcliffe family.  They showed me how to be aggressive at the point of contact, what toughness looked like, and the power that comes with having a team that is united in pursuit of one goal.  Sophomore year, they pushed me to step up and be a leader on the field, to play with complete confidence and joy.  Junior year, they challenged me to bring the team together, to continue loving and being committed even (especially!) when faced with personal adversity.  I learned the power of just being there, continuing to give it my best effort, even when I’m not at my best.

However, senior year has been the best.  There is nothing like being able to look at my younger teammates and see them learn the lessons I’ve learned; see in them the reflection of the older teammates I so admired my throughout my time at Harvard.  I am unbelievably proud of the way this team has come together on and off the field; each of my teammates has taught me to believe in people, because people are good and things will work out for the best!  I could not have asked for more incredible teammates; they inspire me every day.

I am so proud of and honored by the progress the Rugby program has made in its first four years.  I am so excited to see where this team goes in the future.  And also, I’m really proud of my muscles.