Written Senior Perspective: Caleb Zimmick

Written Senior Perspective: Caleb Zimmick

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.

Caleb Zimmick, Men's Volleyball, Team Co-Captain
Hometown: Middleton, Wis.
Concentration: Government
House Affiliation: Quincy

Learning from some of the top economists in the world at Harvard has been an enormous blessing.  I’ve had the chance to take seven economics courses, sufficient for a secondary, and have thoroughly enjoyed the subject.  Among the concepts I’ve learned, macroeconomic lessons on saving and investment underpin complicated models and theories useful for understanding our world. As investment increases, a country or business’ capital stock grows. My time with Harvard men’s volleyball has also been a story of investment and increases in capital.

A couple years before I arrived, Coach Baise began his coaching career at Harvard. He took over a program that lacked a history of prominence but undauntedly took on the task of creating a culture of winning.  His tireless investment from that day forward has reaped significant capital.  This kind of capital was a bit different – human capital. Human capital can be defined as the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value to an organization.  I have personally benefitted from Coach Baise’s investment over the past four years and have seen his impact on the program overall.  He has not only helped me improve my blocking, hitting, and other volleyball skills, but also my commitment and leadership.

When I arrived at Harvard, HMV was putting together all of the pieces for success. Matt Jones and Dan Schreff, two experienced seniors, were our captains.  My volleyball career and success would not be what it is without their investment in the program and in me.  Their example both on the court and off was a demonstration of the way to train, play, and even study to be the best student-athlete I could be.  They poured into me lessons that they had learned over time. Whether it was pushing me in the weight room in the fall (something I absolutely needed), quelling my anxiety before my first start, or comforting me when I experienced a season-ending injury halfway through the year, their influence was constant and their investment was instrumental.  All that I learned about sacrifice was due to firsthand exposure to high self-sacrifice. Their lessons in leadership, though not evident at the time, have benefitted me as a captain this season. 

My other three years have been filled with friends and teammates investing in my individual accomplishments and the team’s success.  Apart from family, my blockmates have been my biggest supporters at games. They always ask that I break down the match with them afterwards, explaining the peculiarities and recounting the highlights. During my captaincy, I have had the opportunity to discuss the role with two roommates who are also team captains. Their insight has been invaluable and applicable. Hearing from former teammates or even seeing them at matches in Cambridge or in California has been meaningful. Although they’ve graduated, their investment, care, and allegiance remains evident.

This past summer, Dan Schreff was married. At his wedding, over 15 members of HMV gathered in rural Connecticut, including Coach Baise and his family. I was the youngest member, being just a freshman when Dan graduated, but that didn’t matter (though my previous teammates chided me, per usual). I was welcomed into the group with some I didn’t know, invited to share in memories from the past, and updated on their post-grad lives. The night was an encounter of the past and present of HMV.  The interest in my career and the season outlook from former members, even some seven or eight years removed, was incredible. Their suggestions for my captaincy and senior year were memorable and useful, and I’m thankful for that time with them.

During my tenure, our team has benefitted from this investment. We’ve made the playoffs for four straight years, a feat never previously achieved for Harvard, we’ve advanced to the conference finals, and have beaten Penn State. We have beaten our Ivy rival, Princeton, six times, and our recruiting rival, Stanford, in our only match against them. We’ve risen to No. 13 in the national poll.  My personal successes of Honorable Mention All-America, multiple first team all-conference accolades, and more, are without a doubt aided by Coach Baise, those that helped build the program before I arrived, and all of my teammates past and present.

My volleyball and life skills, knowledge, and experiences have been shaped tremendously by Harvard men’s volleyball.  I hope that I have invested in others as much as others have invested in me.  So long as this tradition of investment and capital growth persists, the brotherhood of HMV will be successful on the court, in the classroom, and in life.