June 15, 2010
Senior Perspectives: Men's Squash's Alex Lavoie
Senior captains and representatives of varsity teams at
Harvard contributed viewpoints based on personal experience from
both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard. Each
year the Senior Perspectives are compiled into a book and handed
out at the Senior Letterwinner’s Dinner.
Senior Perspectives thus forms a valuable portion of each
team’s legacy to sport at Harvard and to the permanent record
built here by our varsity athletes. Throughout the summer, these
senior essays will be posted to GoCrimson.com for all to see.
I was a walk-on to the Harvard men’s
squash team four years ago, and just finished my fourth and final
season. I participate in a variety of different activities on
campus, yet the place where I think I have forged the closest ties
with other members of the community, and arguably learned the most,
is at the squash courts. I have learned from my teammates in ways
that are not comparable in other realms at Harvard-not academic, or
social, or extracurricular.
I have learned to push myself well beyond what
I thought was possible, to develop my strengths and address my
weaknesses, and most importantly, to be mentally strong under
stress. This last lesson—the ability to fight through
adversity, stay the course, and keep my composure—is
something that I contend could never be learned in the more
low-stress environment of the classroom.
When I first arrived at Harvard, my biggest weakness on the
squash courts was my inability to fight through adversity. When I
started to lose, I would get upset and my game would immediately
collapse. It took a very long time for me to even be willing to
recognize that I did this, let alone work on improving this flaw.
Developing mental toughness under a stressful condition like a
match is something that I learned primarily from my teammates, whom
I could talk to and emulate. In particular, this lesson was best
learned from my more seasoned and talented teammates, ones who were
recruited to come to Harvard because of their tremendous squash
abilities, not their academic abilities.
These students had spent countless hours prior to college
refining their game both mentally and physically, and unlike me,
they knew what it took to fight through adversity in the most
stressful match environments. More importantly, as conscious
members of both our team community and the Harvard community, they
were very willing to help me develop my ability to do the same.
Without these teammates, I would never have developed my squash
game to the level it is at today, but more importantly, I would
never have developed into the leader and person I am today. Having
teammates who could teach me something so different from what I
could learn from the rest of the Harvard community was a huge part
of my experience in college, and one I believe that future Harvard
students should enjoy as well.