ACADEMIC INTEGRATION COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE

IN DIVISION I ATHLETICS

 

Senior Essay: Alisha Mashruwala

One cold February, I found myself playing against the No. 7 ranked player in the country on the Princeton team. I was nervous, but with the words of encouragement from my teammates I was determined to win. The match came down to a close 2-2 in games, and I was quickly down 8-1, match ball in the fifth. As I looked back at the crowd; my teammates and my coaches, I didn’t want to let my team down. I ended up winning the match, though it wasn’t the result that made this match special for me,  it was the support and encouragement I had from my teammates. I realized during that match the Harvard squash team was a family. This is when I began to make some of my best friends. I came into Harvard as the “small Indian girl” who resembled Supriya Balsekar (my captain at the time). The past four years here have been filled with ups and downs, but with moments that I will always treasure.

Each year the squash team has been able to rise to the competition. My sophomore year was somewhat heartbreaking. We played Princeton in the national championship match held at Harvard and lost a close 5-4 decision. However, my junior year we were ranked No. 1 in the country, and were considered to be one of the best squash teams in Harvard history. This also meant that the pressure was on us. Every other team was out to beat us. We kept our focus, worked hard morning and evening, and went on to win the Ivy and national championships. Holding the national championship trophy made me feel proud of my school and teammates. I had a rush of emotions that I had never before experienced. It was a team effort, and everybody put in 110 percent at every practice and every match. This year ended up being one of my most memorable times at Harvard. The team had a tremendous experience in India. I had the opportunity to show them around my hometown, and to do community service in India.

My senior year has had its highs and lows. However, every moment with the team will be one that I remember. We lost a nail-biting national championship final to Yale, 5-4. However, we showed the teams out there what Harvard was truly made of,  class and professionalism, and as the captain of the squash team, I could not be more proud of every single one of the players.

Looking back at my time on the squash team, I realize that it’s not the wins and losses that I will remember the most. Being a part of a team, bonding with a group of incredible girls on the bus trips and team dinners is what made this a truly incredible experience. At the end of four years, I can say that I will leave Harvard with no regrets. My squash team and my coaches have been my family and have made Harvard feel like a home away from home. The friendships and bonds that I have formed in the past few years will stay with me forever. My experience here has taught me so much more than I can imagine and has helped me grow as a person. I leave here saying that I am extremely thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of Harvard Squash.