Around The Yard: Taylor Gavula

Returning to for a fourth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Taylor Gavula
April 18, 2018

When I say my team is like a family, most people think that it’s some cliché all athletes say. But how are we not exactly like one? Between hours of practice, van rides, weekend regattas, spring break, and hotel rooms, I spend more time with sailors than my block-mates – who I actually live with.

Sailors have been my support system from the minute I stepped onto campus my freshman year. I felt like I already somewhat knew the ins and outs of Harvard: how to pick interesting classes, what “The Berg” was, and that no, you really can’t just study the night before your midterm and expect to do well. I felt welcomed and unique in a place where I was surrounded by some of the most interesting and intelligent people in the world. 

While all athletes can probably attest to this immediate feeling of inclusivity, I know that it is especially strong among the sailing team. Although I was a recruited athlete, one of only two recruits for sailing’s class of 2019, our junior class is ten-strong. The remaining eight are comprised of experienced high school sailors who chose not to go through the recruitment process to people who have never set foot in a dinghy until that fateful day in August when a smiling face handed them a flyer at the activities fair, saying “Walk on to the Harvard Varsity Sailing Team! No experience necessary, and it’s loads of fun.” 

The commitment and dedication that people who have never sailed before college display on this team is incredible. Growing up sailing in the summer in New Jersey, I know first-hand what beautiful, fair-weather sailing is – and it’s far from what we practice in in February on the Charles. Grueling sideways snow, gale-force winds, and brain-freezes from being splashed by the sub-freezing river are not exactly the selling points we mention in late August when it comes to recruiting walk-ons. Nevertheless, our team is incredibly resilient, hard-working, and committed not only to the overall success of the team, but to the diversity of extracurriculars and concentrations that we represent. 

I know that without my teammates, I would not be the person I am every day. If it weren’t for late-night interview prep from one of my teammates, I would never have landed my finance internship. If it weren’t for my fellow quad sailors, the walk back from afternoon lift in January would have been miserable. If it weren’t for my teammate who was also a CS50 TF who gave up a Sunday evening to help me study for an exam, I wouldn’t have understood half of what was going on in the class. These people have helped me grow as a sailor, but more importantly, as a person. 

And, while you might have heard the unfortunate news about our boathouse sinking, that hasn’t stopped us from training our hardest this season so that we’re ready for Nationals Qualifiers. Boathouse or no boathouse, we came into this season with goals and they’re not going to change. Like a family, the team sticks together for the good times and nice weather, but we push through adversity and nor’easters together as well.