Written Senior Perspective - Taylor Gavula, Women's Sailing

Written Senior Perspective - Taylor Gavula, Women's Sailing

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.

Taylor Gavula
Harvard Women's Sailing
Concentration: Environmental Sciene and Public Policy

Looking back on my past four years at Harvard, I have seen myself grow as a student, friend, professional, and athlete – all of which I could not have achieved without varsity sailing. When I stepped onto campus freshman fall, I immediately had a community of people who were here for me, wanted to help me learn, and taught me the ins-and-outs of Harvard. As a member of a varsity team, I had an amazing amount of support from my teammates, coaches, and captains to become the very best student-athlete I could become. With no referees, a thick book of rules, and often scary weather conditions, the notion of “Corinthian Spirit” among competitors and teammates originates from the sense of camaraderie, friendship, respect and accountability instilled in the sport of sailing. The “Corinthian Spirit” present on the Harvard sailing team has defined my college experience and shaped me into the (almost adult!) person I am today.  

As I write this senior perspective, on the evening immediately following our women’s team qualifying for the national championship for the third time in my four years here, and after being named to the All-NEISA Second Team for women’s skippers, I feel as if everything I have worked for has fallen into place. It almost makes me forget exactly what it felt like when things were not perfect: like the time we lost a qualification spot to nationals on a fifth-degree tie-breaker, or the time our sailing facility sank into the Charles River, to name a few. So, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my four years on the sailing team that I could not have learned anywhere else, it’s that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay if things don’t always go our way.

From the patient senior who got paired with freshman Taylor who had no idea how to sail in college, another senior who came out of retirement to sail with me my sophomore year; the freshman walk-on who dove head-first into inter-conference competition her first week on campus as my partner; my current rock-star crew who puts up with my ridiculousness; and all of my teammates who have sacrificed afternoons, mornings, and weekends to compete in a sport nobody knows anything about; I have learned that as long as we work as a team, anything is possible. The sacrifices these people have made for the team are more “Corinthian” than anything else I can imagine.

Yes – this is cheesy! But the camaraderie among the Harvard sailing team is impressive given the nature of our sport. Unlike many other varsity sports at Harvard, we don’t compete on the same field every weekend, or even in the same boat, body of water, state, or region. Our team spreads out across the country to search for the best competition, whether it’s down in Charleston or up in Maine our teams may be anywhere around the country at a given time – all fall and all spring – but, the common denominator is that every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, we bring it back to the Charles River and practice as a team. Every spring break, we head down to Maryland and cross our fingers and pray for sun, not snow. Every exam period, we take time out of our schedules to train together to help the teams going to nationals. The commitment, drive and pure love of sport I have seen from my teammates is unprecedented, and I am incredibly proud to be a member of the Harvard varsity sailing team. HSKA!