Senior Essay: Katherine Sheeleigh

If you asked me four years ago, before I entered Harvard, what I would expect to gain from my experience as a member of the Harvard women’s soccer team, I would have given you an answer in numbers. I would have provided you with a potential record of wins and losses and my personal aspirations in statistics.

Now, if you were to ask me what our record was or a specific statistic, I am not sure I could provide you with an answer with any sense of certainty.  As one who loves the game of soccer, over these four years, I have realized that it is specific moments that in the end matter more than the final score.  As a true competitor, almost too competitive for my own good, I would never have thought I’d be admitting this.  However, now, reflecting on my final season that ended months ago, I have realized that what I truly remember most vividly are small tackles, specific goals, dances in the team huddle, phrases from our head coach, our team’s quirky traditions, and the friendships I have formed.  

Looking back on my four years at Harvard, I can genuinely say that I have had the time of my life.  Every year was unique and memorable. I defined myself as a member of this remarkable team; graduating as a former Harvard soccer player is what I am most proud of.  While our final season did not end as well as we had wished, I have two beautiful Ivy League championship rings I am very proud of.  Immediately following my senior season, I was filled with a sense of incompleteness. The bar for our program has been raised, and now anything short of a championship is unsatisfactory.  Yet, what I have come to realize is that while rings and championships are exciting, they themselves are empty. The only reason winning the Ivy League championship was so great was because it was an achievement I will forever share with twenty-five teammates and friends. My teammates have taught me a valuable lesson: Accomplishing a goal with someone by your side is so much better the ephemeral self-satisfaction of doing something alone.  

Playing soccer at Harvard has provided me with so much, and I know that I am forever indebted to this program. I will always bleed Crimson. I am already anxiously looking forward to next season; only this time there will be no fitness tests, hot preseason dorms, or blisters.  While I may no longer be listed on the Crimson roster, I know that I will always be a part of a community that extends far beyond our wonderful campus.