The 2019 Senior Perspectives is the 14th 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.
Growing up, being a Harvard athlete was not my dream. When I first walked into Dillon Field House, I didn’t know what to expect. I was coming off a great senior year of high school in a very successful and competitive program. I had competed against some of the best players in the country, but when I got to Harvard, I was just a walk-on. After the first couple practices, I knew I wasn’t just a walk on - I belonged. I remember calling my dad with excitement after getting a hit off of one of our best pitchers in a fall scrimmage. I was ready.
But, I quickly learned that I had a long way to go. I proceeded to not start any games during my first two years on campus. I hadn’t started until my last year in high school, yet this was a different feeling. In college, I was surrounded by strangers. I wore an unfamiliar shirt in a foreign place. I was frustrated, resentful. For the first time, I was creating bad associations with the game I fell in love with.
I came into the program during a time that we were not having much success. We often lost series despite knowing that we had more talent than our opposition. It seemed like if the ball could bounce the wrong way, it would. There were points where I felt helpless, sitting on the bench, awaiting the inevitable. During these times, I returned to a phrase that has carried me - Find the fun. I would resolve to make a game out of the little things. Things that may not always influence the result in a tangible way, but make baseball the beautiful game that it is.
I would focus on doing the things that wouldn’t get me a pat on the back or on the bottom of a dog pile, but instead put a smile on my face and keep me engaged. During practice I would pick up balls as fast as possible. When on the bench I would be the first one to get foul balls and the first person to yell “back” to our baserunners. I would pick the other teams signs. At the end of the day, there is only one aim: win every pitch. This is the mentality I try to bring to every game. I am pretty lucky to be able to play baseball with some of my best friends. That is cause to rejoice, to be happy. So why shouldn’t I bring that joy to the ballpark every day?
Being a captain has been one of the highest honors of my life. I’m still not certain why I was chosen. I had two career starts entering my senior year. It might have been all those times when I continued to fight when things weren’t going my way. It might be because they think I’m a nice person. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I’ve been able to find the fun in my experience. I took ownership of my time at Harvard and that has manifested itself into a larger role and a winning culture.
A leader should not be the alpha and omega for the team. A title should not determine roles. Letting an underclassmen lead stretches for a day or pick what we’re wearing to lift can go a long way. Even more obvious things like allowing someone else to give the pregame speeches is meaningful. Everyone should feel like they are a part of the process. If they are not involved, they won’t be enjoying themselves and working as hard when nobody is watching. My teammates have made the role easy. We are all singularly focused on the same aim, and that’s made my senior season so amazing. I no longer have to find the fun. It is everywhere.
I try to leave places better than I found them, rest at the end and not in the middle of a journey and find the fun in everything that I do. I love my teammates. I love my friends. I love baseball. I hope we keep winning forever.
“The highest human act is to inspire.” - Nipsey Hussle