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.
Miles McCollum, Football
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
House Affiliation: Mather
The recruiting process is an intense thing for 17- and 18-year olds to go through. For me, I recognized that this was the first time that my decision in regards to where I wanted to go to college, would affect the path the rest of my life took. Lots of variables ride on the decision -- the school I chose would affect the coaches and mentors I’d be around, as well as friends, potential academic fields of study, and various other opportunities I’d be exposed to. Being from Ohio — something that I take a lot of pride in — I considered several schools that were closer to home such as Ohio State and Bowling Green. I also considered some that were further away, such as Harvard and Yale. Once I make a decision, I stick with it, but this doesn’t mean I don’t look back and reflect, and consider how the outcomes may have been different if I had done something else. I’m sure if I had ended up at any of these schools, I would have enjoyed my college experience, but I recognize that I would have none of the great memories I’ve made these past four years, many of which stem from the challenges of Harvard.
Like many student-athletes, making the decision to come to Harvard was ultimately a safe choice — many describe the opportunity as too good to pass up. But, I believe I still took a leap of faith by going to school 15-plus hours from my home. It forced me to push my comfort zones, and branch out in order to meet people. I believe the Harvard football experience is unique in that its members do not come from a particular geographic region or demographic. Our roster from the 2016 season included guys from 25 different states. Some of my teammates grew up in affluent suburbs, whereas others experienced bouts of homelessness growing up. The diversity of our academic pursuits includes things like biomedical engineering, religion, social studies, and economics. Outside of football, some of us like to make music, others recite poetry, or lead bible studies. Many of us did not have the luxury of driving home for the weekend if we had a tough week of practice, or got our butt kicked by an exam. In that sense, we are forced to lean on each other more than ever.
Harvard football has taught me many lessons, the most important of which being it’s okay to get knocked down, mentally, physically, and emotionally, as long as you lean on those around you to pick you back up. This begins with buying into the culture of fortitude taught by Harvard Football and exemplified by the city of Boston, and adopting the new families as your own. Although our success on the field as one of the winningest teams in Harvard history is something to be proud of (with a record of 35-5, including three Ivy-League championships), it cannot come close to being reflective of the entire experience. Coach Murphy has built a culture of grit, hard work, accountability, and excellence. When the young men he recruits enter into and become a part of this culture, a bond is created that transcends football. Of my roommates today, all were Harvard football players. One hails from Atlanta, Georgia, another from Portland, Oregon, and another from San Diego, California. Football happened to be the thing that has brought us together, but it is not the reason we will be friends for our lifetimes. For that is the shared experience we had, leaning on each other when the times were tough, and celebrating with each other when the times were good. As this chapter of my life comes to a close and I reflect on these past four years, I have realized I couldn’t have asked for more from my college experience.