The 2015 Senior Perspectives is the 10th 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.
For a complete listing of 2015 Senior Perspectives, click here.
Brenna Nelsen, Women's Golf
Hometown: Monte Sereno, Calif.
Concentration: History and Science
House Affiliation: Leverett
Most people don’t come to New England to play golf. As a native Californian, I was often asked - and, indeed, at times asked myself that freshman year when my notion of “winter” was radically altered - why I chose to attend a school in Boston instead of picking a college in a more temperate, golf-friendly climate.
As a high school senior, Harvard presented the allure of world-class academics and a strong golf program. I expected my time at Harvard to be a transformative experience, but I could never have imagined so much of that transformation would be shaped by my experience on the Harvard women’s golf team.
Over the past four years, our team has transformed from a regionally-competitive program into a nationally-ranked contender, capable of competing with the best teams in the country. It has been, quite simply, incredible to see the growth and progression of our program. In an increasingly strong league, Harvard has won the Ivy title each of the past four years, becoming the first Ancient Eight program to do so. Our team has also become more and more competitive on the national stage - we have teed it up alongside some of the best teams in the country, and we’ve held our own. At last year’s NCAA Regionals, we came just shy of becoming the first Ivy League team to qualify for the NCAA National Championships, a goal that may have once been a far-fetched dream, but is now well within the realm of possibility.
Our success on the course can be primarily attributed to our team culture, camaraderie, and tireless work ethic. Even during the freezing winter months, my teammates make the bitter and numbing walk to the indoor practice facility every day during our off-season. I am continually inspired by the motivation and drive of my teammates, who push me to work harder and have brought out the very best in me as an athlete. It is largely due to their constant presence that I leave Harvard a better golfer than when I entered four years ago.
But for all our team’s accomplishments on the course, the greatest transformation over these past four years has been my own personal growth and development. As athletes, we pride ourselves on being mentally tough - we grind it out when things are difficult, and we push through that tough mid-round stretch to finish off strong. But while athletics may foster the mentality of putting on a brave face and hiding struggles, for me, the golf team was the place on campus where I received unconditional support and strength at times when I was my weakest. My coaches and teammates were there for me through every athletic, academic, and personal struggle. They’ve taught me the power of perseverance and resiliency, and they’ve shaped me into the person that I have become.
Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that Harvard - and Harvard Golf - was the best decision my high school self could have made. It is difficult - quite frankly, impossible - to put into words my appreciation for and gratitude towards the coaches and teammates who have shaped my past four years. Their presence and support has enriched my life and defined my time in college. Not a day goes by when I do not feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Harvard Golf program. Even as my time on campus comes to a close and I near the end of my collegiate career, I can look forward to always carrying my Crimson bag down the fairway, proud to have been a Harvard golfer.