Written Senior Perspective - Spencer Daniel, 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.

Spencer Daniel
Harvard Men's Lacrosse 
Concentration: Government
Dunster House

The first draft I wrote was full of clichés about getting back up when you are down, rolling with the punches, and losses either building or revealing character, depending on the day. As I wrote it, I realized these platitudes could describe any team, anywhere, at any time. The truth is, most athletes understand and have heard these same clichés for most of our life.  However, as I have come to learn, being a student-athlete at Harvard is like no other.

I am a senior and a captain of the Harvard Men’s Lacrosse team. Four years ago, I remember very well arriving on campus for my admission interview with a mix of nerves, excitement and awe.  During our conversation, I asked the committee member what makes attending Harvard so much more exceptional than any other institution in the world. I now have the great privilege and honor of knowing firsthand the answer. 

In the beginning, as a freshman, I struggled a lot with our team results. It has been a disappointing four years athletically, if I am measuring success strictly by wins and losses. When you wake up at 5:30 am five days a week and head to the field, spend roughly six hours a day reviewing film, practicing, getting treatment for injuries, travelling, etc. it is hard to see all the work the team and staff put in not result in a championship. We strive for that pinnacle together, and we all share the frustration and the exhaustion of being a student athlete when that goal remains unfulfilled. It is precisely at this point that Harvard digresses from the quintessential.

The Harvard men’s lacrosse team will concede vacancies on the team before we will accept a player that does not meet the acceptable standard of character. We will play with a smaller roster to maintain integrity. This philosophy is cultivated by our coaches, staff and from each other as players. On and off the field throughout my four years, our Harvard men’s lacrosse team has carried itself with dignity, inclusivity and kindness.  The Harvard men’s lacrosse team is regularly praised by employers for the work ethic and quality of men we have sent out into the workforce. We understand that long after we are done being lacrosse players, we will be citizens, husbands, employers, employees and fathers. Being a member of this Harvard men’s lacrosse team has provided a solid foundation for these important responsibilities. In return, the legacy our senior class leaves is to entrust the program even better than we found it.

In closing, it is not lost on me what a privilege it is to have played lacrosse with people that I have huge admiration for at the most revered academic institution in the world. I am honored now and always will be to have attended Harvard as a student-athlete. This team is the most upstanding group of men that I am proud to call my teammates and friends.