Written Senior Perspective - Malia Ellington, Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

Written Senior Perspective - Malia Ellington, Women's Cross Country/Track and Field

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.

Eliot House
Harvard Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field
Concentration: Human Evolutionary Biology

I have not competed in a track race since my freshman year. Due to a severe Achilles injury, I have spent more time in the training room than out on the track over my four years at Harvard. This has not lessened my love of the sport, and I still plan to run competitively in the future, but my time as an NCAA student athlete has not been what I expected, or even what I wanted it to be. Without the reward of competition, I have often been asked, “Why didn’t you quit?”

I am not one to give up on anything, much less something I love, so even a severe injury was not enough to deter me from my running pursuits. However, when the path to recovery became more challenging and much longer than anticipated, I still knew that I would never leave the team for one very important reason: my teammates.  

My teammates have been the ones to remind me each and every day that it is a privilege to compete in our sport and to demonstrate how it can be both powerful and empowering. It is inspiring to be around people who are striving to be the best version of their academic, athletic, and personal selves. My teammates have also been the ones at my side throughout all the ups and downs of the past four years. They have been the ones to laugh with me, cry with me and experience every emotion in between. Even when I wasn’t able to compete, I wanted to be a part of this team, and more importantly, I wanted to use what I had learned from my challenges to help the team learn, grow and become even stronger.

Furthermore, I am incredibly proud of my teammates in the senior class. We have overcome conflicting training perspectives, coaching changes, and differences between teammates, while continually striving to create a solid foundation for future generations of Harvard track and field. We have faced adversity together and developed into more resilient and more thoughtful people along the way. Our experience has been challenging to say the least, but we have been able to use what we have learned to emphasize the importance of a positive, supportive team culture, and that is the best possible legacy we could leave.

Of course, there are still times I wish I had never gotten injured. There are still times I wish that I had been able to compete more often in the sport that I love. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change my experience because it has shaped the person I have become, and now more than ever, I approach running with joy and gratitude.  

As I graduate, I know that the sum of my time with Harvard track and field cannot be quantified by the number of miles I’ve run, the race results I have posted, the visits to the training room I’ve recorded, or even the number of races I’ve had to miss.

Instead, I will remember the teammates I shared all these experiences with, the lessons we learned together, and the friendships that will last long after each of us runs our final track race.