Written Senior Perspective - Tyler Tarsi, Wrestling

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.

Tyler Tarsi, Wrestling
Hometown: Nazareth, Pa.
Concentration: Applied Mathematics
House Affiliation: Adams

At Harvard, we often discuss the “transformative experience” that defines our four years on this campus. Dean Khurana uses this term so much that it has become something of a banal cliché, and it is often featured in jokes among students. But with many clichés, we can find deeper wisdom if we crack below the superficial platitudes that they present. And in examining my own Harvard experience and those of the friends closest to me, I can assure you that four years on this campus have been more transformative than my freshman self could have ever hoped. 
 
But what is the mechanism by which this transformation occurs? Across the student body, it varies. I can only speak definitively about my own experience, but I would opine that for myself and for other members of the wrestling program, this mechanism is our team. I am forever grateful to everyone involved in the Harvard Wrestling program for the opportunity to become a member of this family. It has become an integral part of my identity. In fact, it has even become a part of my (biological) family’s identity: my brother, Trevor, and cousin, Brock, have both since joined the Harvard wrestling team, and being able to embark on this journey with them has been rewarding and meaningful. As a member of this program, I have been provided opportunities and experiences that I sincerely believe I would not be able to get elsewhere.
 
I’ve been able to experience triumph and defeat in the best and worst ways; I have been a “man in the arena.” There were many times throughout my experience here that I struggled with doubt and lack of confidence. Poor results are frustrating, and I was forced to face them early on in my college career. But through the support system offered by our team and coaches, I learned to confront these demons, and it made me a more confident athlete and person. I’ve also been able to experience inspiring successes. My favorite memories from college include many of our team’s victories; matches where every member of the team contributes to a larger goal, where the energy between teammates is nothing short of exhilarating. 
 
As a captain, my perspective on leadership has grown and changed. I’ve learned the importance of investing in relationships, of immersing oneself in the experiences of others, and of facilitating the development of accountable leaders that the Harvard Wrestling program consistently produces. Of all the aspects of leadership, investing and developing relationships with others has been my favorite. I’ve met and made irreplaceable friends who make me a better person in unique ways, and to whom I’ll be close for the rest of my life. The Harvard fight song is entitled “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard.” It is a nod to the 10,000 men who came before and the 10,000 men who will come after. I am somewhat averse to the concept of role models, but I often found myself looking up to members of the program who came before me. I’ve always kept in mind the people who will come after me, and I’ve used this as motivation to become the type of person who is worthy of representing our program. I’ve found my place in the history of Harvard Wrestling between the tides of great people who have come before, and those who are yet to come. I’ve become part of something larger than myself, that which philosopher Robert Nozick argues is what we need to find meaning in our lives. 
 
In addition to all of this, the sport of wrestling and the Harvard Wrestling program have enabled me to graduate with an education from the greatest academic institution in the world. From computer science and mathematics to political philosophy and constitutional law, I’ve been able to explore various academic interests of mine with astonishingly impressive peers, in ways that few universities allow their students to do. 
 
Concisely summarizing my time at Harvard in just a few hundred words is impossible. But in examining my own experience, I’ve come to understand that the mechanism of transformation during my time at Harvard College has been my membership on the wrestling team. I am proud of the man that this program has enabled me to grow into, and nothing will make me prouder than saying I was a member of the Harvard Wrestling team.