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.
Dileas MacGowan, Women's Squash
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Concentration: Human Evolutionary Biology
House Affiliation: Currier
Freshman year. It's the finals versus Trinity, we're down 4-3 in matches and I find myself down 8-2 in the fifth. I look up in the stands. And I feel fantastic, undying energy. I see my teammates, my mom, and I hear the deep projecting voice of my dad that simply cannot go unnoticed. And I see the men's team. I see Dev, Bryan, Brandon, Kirby and Gary. Guys that independently drove five hours all the way to Princeton, and will drive another five hours back that afternoon, just to cheer and support us. And I remember Bryan's match the weekend before, how he relentlessly fought to win a thrilling five gamer to help bring home the national championship.
I say to myself "Dileas, you didn't come here to lose. They didn't come here to cheer and support you only to watch you lose. They are here to cheer you on to victory. And that is exactly what you're going to do. Because you owe it to them, to all of them. So right now you're going to catch yourself, and you're going to fight."
I proceed to win four consecutive points to bring it to 6-8. I hear someone on the men's team yell "she's rattled." He's right. She's rattled. And then came the Michael Jordan quote that our coach has forever engrained in all of us. "Stay the same." All I have to do is stay the same. Because this chick, she is rattled.
And apparently, I just kept on rattling her through to an 11-9 victory. One of the best feelings of my life. There truly are few things greater.
We, unfortunately, did not end up winning that year but boy did we get our sweet revenge on the Princeton courts this year.
This story represents what the experience being a member of the Harvard Squash team has meant to me, and why I have found it one of the most special and rewarding experiences of my life.
It is the most supportive community I have ever been a part of; from the coaches' sincere care of each team member - the gravity of which I have truly understood this year- to the generosity of the parents, the timeless commitment of Beth and our physiotherapists, and the much-appreciated generosity of friends of Harvard squash. But most of all is the support both on and off court from your teammates, men and women.
There is truly nothing quite like winning a national championship with a team of women who share their passion, drive and primal competitive nature. But the experience is defined by so much more than the titles that we have on our backs. Throughout my four years here, I have made some of the most positive, supportive, enduring, and diverse relationships that I have ever known.
Anyone can be given a fantastic opportunity, but it is up to the individual to turn that fantastic opportunity into a fantastic experience. I am so incredibly grateful to have been given this incredible opportunity, and to be a part of a community that has helped me turn this incredible opportunity into the most fantastic experience.