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.
Giana Panariello, Softball
Hometown: Bay Shore, N.Y.
House Affiliation: Winthrop
I can still remember the day when I got the call from Coach Allard. I was sitting in a car on a beautiful New York evening, headed to a Met game with my entire family. The phone rang, we stopped the car, and I broke into tears of joy as Coach told me she wanted me to be a member of the Harvard Softball team. At that moment, I deemed it the best day of my life. Little did I know I was embarking on a journey that would bring many more “best days” to my family and myself.
From travelling to California and Hawaii to winning an Ivy League North Division title, it is difficult to feel anything but grateful for this experience. Being a member of the softball team has largely shaped my time at Harvard. I have shared the field and the classroom with a group of fearless, dedicated, and compassionate young women who I am fortunate enough to call my teammates and my friends. I became a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a Student-Athlete Peer Advising Fellow in an attempt to provide athletes from all sports with a Harvard experience as powerful as mine has been for me. I am fortunate enough to have forged relationships with both professors and coaches that have helped to shape me into the woman I am today. For all of these people, I am grateful.
Beyond these shared experiences, I will most remember the small moments that I have spent only with my teammates. Between 6 a.m. walks across the river for conditioning and 9 p.m. walks back to our dorms after a February practice in the Bubble, we have exchanged laughs, tears, and an entire spectrum of emotions together. Softball is a game of failure; being successful even just three out of ten times makes you among the greatest in the game. In the moments of success this game has given me, I recognize that it truly would not have been the same without the generations of Harvard Softball players that I have had the distinct honor to enjoy them with. The struggles we endured, the blood, sweat, and tears we shed on the field and in the weight room, and the vast adversity that we have overcome turns individual success into team triumph. When it comes to the game of life, I feel as though I am batting 1.000. To work alongside these women in pursuit of a common goal has turned individual victories into team ones, dreams into reality, and teammates into champions.
This year, I will take the field for the last time after a 16-year journey in the sport of softball. With “Harvard” across my chest and number “7” on my back, I have experienced moments of both triumph and failure, all the while learning more about myself than ever before. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent this team as a senior captain; leading them into battle both on and off the field has been one of the most rewarding components of my collegiate career. The Harvard softball program has taught me what it means to work hard, to face challenges head on, to pursue excellence in all parts of life, and to leave a legacy that my teammates and I can collectively be proud of. I will be forever grateful for my coaches, teammates, and fellow senior classmates, because as I hang up my cleats after this final chapter, I will leave Harvard being victorious in all aspects of my life and an eternal member of the Harvard softball family.