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.
Max Rich, Football
Hometown: Portlant, Ore.
House Affiliation: Mather
Looking back on my senior season, I still have a sour taste in my mouth. The 2016 Harvard football team had the opportunity to complete something that has never happened before in our history—it could have won its fourth straight Ivy League championship. After 130 years of football history, we were right on the cusp of accomplishing something unprecedented, but we failed to accomplish this goal. Despite losing the last two games of my football career at Harvard, and with them losing the championship, I know from my previous struggles here that I will get through it.
Coming to Harvard as a freshman, I hoped to contribute to the team right away. I expected to play an important role on a team, since a large of number seniors had just graduated, and they had an 8-2 record. I was disappointed when I didn’t get the opportunity to play the role that I wanted. I thought that I made a mistake coming to Harvard, and I let that thought creep into my schoolwork. I began struggling in my classes and never sought help because I thought I could do things on my own. I continued to struggle to the point where I had to meet with my Dean, schedule extra help from teaching staff, and arrange for tutors for additional help. Suddenly, everything started to turn around.
My grades got better with each day, and my confidence on the football field started coming back. Just as I had sought help from my teaching staff and tutors, I turned to my coaching staff and teammates to get extra work on the field. I started understanding some of the key fundamentals that I needed to tweak in order to succeed. Every day I pushed myself to be ready when my coaches called my name.
Almost four years after my freshman struggles, I had become a leader on the field. My teammates and I were pushing for our fourth championship in a row when we lost to Yale in the last game of the season. Like my teammates, I was very disappointed with the result of game and the outcome of the season in general. I was frustrated with myself, because I thought I could have done more to help my team succeed. But just as I had done when I faced challenges previously at Harvard, I leaned on those around me to overcome. In this case, I turned to the 17 other seniors who were graduating with me. Though we weren’t even expected to be competitive this year due to how many seniors graduated in 2015 we still finished minutes away from a fourth Ivy League championship by pushing each other to become better.
What makes this community of Harvard and Harvard Athletics so great is its extensive support network. Whether it was the administration or my teachers in the classroom or my coaches and teammates on the field, I never had to go far for help when life presented challenges.