Written Senior Perspective - Jonathan Butler, Men's Lacrosse

Photo by Gil Talbot
Photo by Gil Talbot

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.

Jonathan Butler
Hometown: Summit, N.J. 
Concentration: Economics
House Affiliation: Dunster

One of my most memorable experiences as a member of the lacrosse team at Harvard came late in the spring of my sophomore year.  We had just lost to Penn at home, a loss that effectively meant we would not make the Ivy League tournament at the end of the season.  At this point, our season would be over two weeks later, when we were to play Yale at home.  Standing in our huddle on the field at the end of the game against Penn, I vividly remember the sight of one of our senior captains as he spoke to the team with his arms around us.  He was unable to play in that game due to injury, and as he spoke he was clearly holding back tears as he realized that his career would be over in two weeks’ time.  I remember the immense sense of guilt I felt watching him, as I felt we had let him and the other seniors down who had worked so hard over their four years on the team.  Two weeks later, we defeated Yale on our Senior Day.  It was by far our best game of the year, and meant so much for our team to be able to send off our seniors on such a high note.  That was the one bit of solace we found in an otherwise disappointing season for our team, that our seniors’ last game ended in a win over Yale.

It’s common on our team, late in our spring season, for players to talk about “playing for our seniors”.   In my first three years on the team this motivated me a lot, especially as our season neared its end.  Each of the senior classes I saw graduate had been some of my closest friends, and I didn’t want our time together on the team to be over.  However, this year, as my teammates started talking about playing for this year’s seniors, all I felt was guilt.  In years past, this message always meant a lot to me, but I never imagined being in those seniors’ shoes.  In a sense, it makes me proud that my teammates feel this way about our senior class.  Knowing that all the hard work we have given over the past four years is not for nothing feels good, especially when you realize that your best friends appreciate all that you have given.  At the same time though, I wish the younger players on the team could see things from our perspective as seniors.  Although freshmen have three more years on the team, their time with this year’s team is fleeting.  One thing that I have come to understand is that each year’s team has its own personality, every group is unique. 

My time on the Harvard lacrosse team has been by far the defining experience of my time at Harvard.  My teammates are the closest friends I have ever had, as well as the most influential role models I have ever looked up to.  The character, work ethic, and selflessness I saw across the river every day for four years has taught me more than I could ever learn in a classroom.  I have also found that nothing brings you closer to a group of friends than facing adversity together, and nothing makes you appreciate them more than realizing your time together is coming to a close.  As I hang up my cleats for the last time, I am proud to have played alongside such an amazing group of men.  I hope that my impact on them is even a fraction of the impact they have had on me.