The 2016 Senior Perspectives is the 11th 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.
For a complete listing of 2016 Senior Perspectives, click here.
Samantha Udolf, Women's Alpine Skiing
Hometown: West Hartford, Conn.
House Affiliation: Pforzheimer
I was 15 years old when I dreamed of being on the Harvard alpine ski team. I skied for a small private school in Connecticut and during a tri-state ski race, I saw a girl wearing a Harvard GS suit. My first thought was, “Harvard has a ski team?” My second thought was, “Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if one day I could wear that GS suit?” It became a recurring dream until December 15, 2011, the day I was accepted to Harvard.
Fast-forward one year from that date.
I was one of five incoming freshmen to make the alpine ski team. Along with me were four boys, who soon became my best friends. Well, maybe soon isn’t entirely accurate; first I had to gain an education in the inappropriateness of college boys, including talking about girls (not the PG version), making a mess, and eating excessive amount of carbohydrates. During the first week of practice freshman year, we were sitting in the ski room surrounded by skis, poles, waxing and tuning equipment, and miscellaneous ski-related junk that lined the walls and floors. Tim Mitchell, who would be my coach for the next four years, pulled out from a cardboard box a red GS suit with Harvard printed on the leg, the same one I had seen four years earlier. He threw it at me, and tears filled my eyes as a dream came true. I felt like I was in the final scene of Rudy when the coach says, “Go get ‘em kid,” and Rudy comes off the bench and rushes onto the field.
I never went to a ski academy, so skiing on a DI college team was never on my radar — it was but a dream, until Coach Tim issued me my GS suit. I could never imagine a winter without ski racing, but after four great years on the Harvard alpine ski team, I can never think of life at Harvard without it. My teammates have been there for one another on and off the hill, at the start and finish of not only every race, but also of our entire Harvard careers. We carried one another’s clothes and equipment; we battled -40 degree weather at Saddleback Mountain; we cooked and baked together and almost burned down a house with chocolate chip cookies; we celebrated Shabbat, birthdays, and other special events; we were there for each other when one of us got hurt; we tuned each others skis; we survived a chair lift getting struck by lightning and the paralyzing fear of electrocution. We laughed together, cried together, celebrated together.
I am forever grateful for the honor and privilege to have skied on the Harvard alpine ski team. Serving as captain was but a cherry on top of the mountain.