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.
Luke Esposito, Men's Ice Hockey
Hometown: Greenwich, Conn.
House Affiliation: Kirkland
It’s now been just over three weeks since my college hockey career ended. With graduation quickly approaching it seems an appropriate time to reflect on life as a Harvard hockey player. Looking back, it’s hard not to think immediately to the glaring memories burned in my mind. The pass that lead to UMD’s game-winning goal missing my stick by mere centimeters, seemingly the lowest point one could ever imagine. Only to turn right back around and have a chance to reverse the pain that was quickly becoming reality. Ping. Off the crossbar. A glimpse at a tie game, gone. The buzzer shortly following, a sharp reminder that the low we previously felt was nothing compared to this. Half an inch from a miraculous come back. Half an inch from new life. Instead, a storybook season comes to a crashing halt, seemingly unjust for the magnitude of the game. The mood in the locker room after reflected the gravity of the moment. Silence. Then tears. Brothers realizing the end of a year long roller coaster ride that stopped one game too soon.
It’s been just over three weeks since that puck hit the crossbar and I’ve spent nearly every minute trying to force those memories deeper and deeper down until I can’t feel them anymore. The missed opportunities. The opportunity to check off just one more box on the long list of goals we set at the beginning of the year. The opportunity to achieve something that only one other Harvard team had ever done. The opportunity to pull on that Crimson uniform just one more time. Unfortunately, looking back at these missed chances provides no relief of the pain, just a reminder of what could have been. A dream left unfulfilled. The End.
While I have tried not to think back on the game in the weeks since the heartbreaking end to our historic run, I have spent time thinking back on the fonder memories. It is here that I’ve found some form of closure with the way things ended. For all the highs we were lucky enough to enjoy ourselves this season, we forgot not the work those before us put in. This year there was lots said about the senior class that I’m so honored to be a part of, and rightfully so as it is made up of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing; however, this season was not just about those on the ice every night. Rather it was a manifestation of years of work from countless Harvard Hockey players before us. When I stepped on campus in the fall of 2013 as an unsure 19 year old kid just hoping to fit in, I had no idea the grinding it would take to reach the level we all desired. Building a culture of winning is something all teams aspire to do, but few achieve. Regardless of how our season ended, I can say with full conviction that we achieved this goal.
In the wake of the flood of emotions that quickly overcame the shock of that final buzzer it has admittedly been tough for us all to think back on the season. But in spending time with my teammates since the season ended, we have together been able to realize a greater appreciation for all that being a Harvard Hockey player offers. The success - Ivy League champs, Beanpot champs, ECAC regular season champs, ECAC Tournament champs, and a Frozen Four appearance - is more than enough. However, at the risk of sounding conceited, for me it isn’t. Not because we didn’t complete that final goal of winning a National Championship. And not because our team mantra “Good Enough, Never Is” forces me to never be satisfied. No, despite the painful end to the season, I am at peace with the run we had. Rather, for me, while the banners will be nice to look back on, what I’m more grateful for is the friendships being a harvard hockey player has offered. Back in 2013, I hoped I would meet future lifelong friends, what I didn’t know was that I would actually meet countless brothers. Hockey is a funny game in this way. The bonds shared with teammates are something that will forever remain. The trust we all instilled in each other every time we donned the Crimson pulled us closer together one game at a time. And four years later...I’m left with a lifetime of memories and countless brothers, eight of which I will graduate with this spring.
To those eight seniors that I’ve grown so close with: thank you for everything you’ve taught me over these past four years. Together we’ve shared countless celebrations, tears, and everything in between. And in the process I’ve had the pleasure of watching you all become men. I’ll miss listening to Clay ask Kerf how many pieces of bubble gum he should chew in warmups. I’ll miss Vic Newell’s starting lineups, and Moysie’s constant joking. I’ll miss kneeling next to Deuces (Dev) and belting “Teenage Wasteland” before we go to battle. I’ll miss coming in after a tough practice and seeing Mugsy’s skates hanging in his stall. I’ll miss my stallmate, the greatest bag skater there ever was or will be, Phil Zielonka. And I’ll miss Guilts telling someone that he’ll “tie them in a knot” in the deepest voice he can muster up. I’ll never forget the four years we’ve spent together.
Lastly, to Harvard: THANK YOU. Thank you for the opportunity to meet my best friends. Thank you for the Bright-Landry Arena. The countless hours spent in the locker room. The chaotic bus trips and messed up meal orders. Trips across windiest Bridge in the world and the 100 game club. Thank you for Kirkland. The Yard. The back right table in the Berg. 30 Holyoke St. The Peak. The Cage. The Hollis Stoop. Late night Nochs. And later night tunes. And of course, thank you for the boys. Thank you for the chance to become the person I am today, I couldn’t have done it without you. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to wear Crimson for the past four years and I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of it all. What a ride.