The 2017 Senior Perspectives is the 12th 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.
Colby Knight, Wrestling
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
House Affiliation: Eliot
One question asked to me frequently throughout my Harvard career— “are you still on the wrestling team?”
I remember being asked this question as early as my freshman year, and it showed its face more and more as time went on. The question was often surprising to me because it felt like those who were asking assumed that I would say no.
After having wrestled since birth, the idea of quitting the sport was not necessarily a new concept. I’ve wanted to quit a million times. The toll that pursuing excellence in wrestling takes on your body is unparalleled. When you consider all of the injuries, the failures, the weight-cutting, the other possible ways you could spend your time, and frankly the ridiculousness that is wrestling— why not quit? Who would ever sign up to have their body thrown against a mat for two hours every day? Who would ever want to carry a teammate up the stadium steps? Who would ever choose to put on three layers of sweats and jump up and down in a steamy hotel bathroom to lose weight the night before weigh-ins in Lancaster, Pennsylvania?
For me, it’s because I learned that wrestling could teach me what nothing else could. It granted me a profound responsibility to be my best self. You can’t blame a loss in a wrestling match on your teammates or your coaches— wrestling is simply you versus another dude. The only true way to achieve success is to embrace the responsibility. On one hand, I am responsible for the hours upon hours of training that I put in, but I am also responsible for having the sheer grit that it takes to win a wrestling match. The incredible challenge and invaluable lesson of this responsibility is what kept me going to the MAC at 3:30 p.m. every day for four years. While ultimately wrestling itself is just a sport, wrestling has granted me the understanding of what it means to be my best self, and I can apply that understanding to every other facet of my life.
Rather than trying to figure out why this question was a favorite among Harvard students, I tried to use it to my advantage. Not only was my answer always a resounding yes, but the question served as a reminder to constantly remember my why.
Thanks Dad, Evan, Coach Weiss, Coach Harrington, Coach Muz, J.P O’Connor, Coach Moreno, and everyone else who helped me along the way.