Written Senior Perspective - Isabel Jasper, Women's Tennis

Written Senior Perspective - Isabel Jasper, Women's Tennis

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.

Isabel Jasper
Kirkland House
Harvard Women’s Tennis
Concentration: Sociology
Secondary: African American Studies

It has been a privilege and an honor to be an athlete at Harvard these past four years.  When I compare my athletic experience to those of my friends playing at other schools and other leagues, I feel even more fortunate that I was able to continue to play the sport that I love at a school that valued both my desire to play on a highly competitive team, with fine coaches, access to amazing facilities and resources, all while being able to take the classes that I wanted to take, and to be part of the larger Harvard community.

My freshman year, I was in awe of all the activities and groups at Harvard and I made it my personal goal to add one additional Harvard activity each year, so that I could try to make the most of all that Harvard has to offer.  This goal was supported in full by coach Traci Green.  I remember approaching Coach Green after my first semester and asking to apply to become a Drug Alcohol Peer Advisor (DAPA).  If accepted, it meant that I would have to go through 30 hours of training and some of the scheduled training sessions for DAPA conflicted with practice.  Coach Green allowed me to practice at different times so that I could fulfill my commitment.

My sophomore year, I had the distinct pleasure of being part of Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and continued to serve on this committee through my senior year.  This experience afforded me the opportunity to work with other athletes at Harvard beyond my team.  It has given me a larger sense of the importance of athletics and the depth of the Harvard athletic community, SAAC is a group of student athletes who truly want to make a difference and support one another.

The summer after my sophomore year, I applied to a program called Coach For College.  A prerequisite for the program was to be a Division I athlete. Again, athletics and tennis created opportunities for me that would otherwise not be available.  I worked for three weeks in the Mae Kong Delta, Vietnam, teaching middle school children math, life skills and tennis on a make shift tennis court.  Harvard supported me on this journey by awarding me a Weisman Fellowship.  The experience was one of the most formative of my life and I am forever grateful to Harvard Athletics for presenting me with this life changing opportunity.

In my junior year, I decided to go completely outside my comfort zone and comp for the business board of the Harvard Lampoon.  There were very few athletes on the Lampoon and I was exposed to a whole different side of Harvard.  Again, Coach Green supported and encouraged my participation in activities outside the athletic realm. 

Tennis has been the constant in my life at Harvard and being an athlete on campus defined my experience in many ways, but it did not limit me.  I had the best of all worlds and no regrets.  I was encouraged to take advantage of all that Harvard has to offer, which is what I hoped for when I came here four years ago.  I have made lasting friendships, been part of an Ivy Championship Team, traveled on a team-training trip to Spain, and met so many people (alumni/ae) along the way that have mentored me and showed me what it means to “pay it forward”.

I am thankful to all those who believed and supported me in my journey.  I will treasure my time at Harvard recognizing what an incredible gift it has been – to be a student-athlete at Harvard.