ACADEMIC INTEGRATION COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE

IN DIVISION I ATHLETICS

 

Senior Essay: Tyler Albright

Four years ago, I finished my high school baseball season on the bottom of a 30-man “dog pile” in front of the pitcher’s mound at Dodger Stadium. Then, as I prepared to go to college, I was nervous to leave the teammates I had grown so accustomed to, and I had no idea what to expect going away so far from home. Three months later, I rode up to Joe O’Donnell Field on my brand new bike and shook hands with several of my new teammates. 

After a nerve-racking workout on the field, a bunch of the new freshmen went to Felipe’s and we shared our first of a million meals together. We could all feel the awkwardness that separated us from each other.  We were a group of young, anxious ball players from all over the country who were eager to determine if we belonged. We all had high expectations for the Harvard baseball team over the next four years, and we had no idea the challenges that lay ahead of us.  

My first three years as a member of the Harvard baseball team were far from our glorious expectations. We did not win any Ivy League championships, we did not finish with a winning record, and we did not compete in the NCAA tournament. If someone were to tell me four years ago that I would finish my first three seasons at Harvard with an overall record of 40 wins and 84 losses, I am almost positive that it would have affected my decision to come to Harvard. However, when people ask me today what I think about Harvard, I look them in the eye and say it was the best decision I ever made. I could not imagine myself at any other college, on any other team, or being surrounded by any other group of guys. The friends I have made and the people I have met during my time at Harvard are what make this place truly amazing. I would not trade any of my memories or experiences for anything in the world; I have grown to love this place and the people who make Harvard special.  

Most people would argue that the academic prowess and prestige that is Harvard take place on the Cambridge side of the river.  However, I think that my time on the baseball team has taught me more about life than any book, theory, or section ever could.  Beyond the hours I spent in the cage, in the bullpen, or standing in the outfield during batting practice, I learned invaluable life lessons about commitment, dedication, and loyalty. Our disappointments taught us to be resilient, to work hard, to band together, and to fight for wins. We learned that when the going gets tough, it is so much easier to give up and quit—but this team never quit.  I remember the numerous cold, miserable mornings we woke up early to make the trek across the river for weightlifting, conditioning, or to even pull the frozen tarp off the rain drenched field. But it never mattered because we were a tough team. What I love most about my team is that we were a band of brothers. We picked each other up when one was down, we pushed each other to the limits, and we celebrated our hearts out when it was needed.  

However, I do not want it to seem like all my memories stem from disappointment and struggle. Because even though we had our lows, we did win big games and even embarrassed a few teams with blowout victories. We’ve swept Brown, blown out Yale, dominated Dartmouth, and beaten bigt time programs like Notre Dame, Stetson, and Creighton.  As anyone who has played sports knows, nothing can replace the excitement and jubilation of winning, and I love nothing more than winning with the guys on my team.  Being the captain of this team for two years, I have seen how good we are, how hard we work, and how much we crave victory. And when we won games, it was always the best feeling in the world. I have had numerous unforgettable experiences while wearing a Harvard uniform, and I know I will cherish every one of those memories for the rest of my life.  

Lastly, after reflecting on the past four years, I can smile about our achievements and the obstacles we have overcome. I have the utmost respect for my teammates, and I will never forget the joys of playing the game I love with my best friends. However, as I write this letter, my final season is not over. We’re on the brink of the Ivy League race and the best memory of all has yet to come. I would love nothing more than to finish my college career on the bottom of another mountainous “dog pile” and sing the euphoric victory cries of Tarzan Boy with my fellow teammates!