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.
David Ng, Wrestling
Hometown: Massapequa, N.Y.
House Affiliation: Kirkland
Being a member of the Harvard Wrestling team was a large part of my experience. I was a four-year starter at heavyweight, I was a three-time conference placewinner, and this year I finally qualified for the national tournament. The first three years of my career were extremely inconsistent; I had shown that I could be really tough, but that was only on occasion. This wasn’t due to a lack of motivation, I wanted to be an All-American and I worked hard but I just didn’t know how. The turning point came after the conference tournament junior year; I had taken 7th place and once again hadn’t qualified for the national tournament. Around this time I realized the inevitable fact that I only have one more year of wrestling and I knew that something had to change. I met with the coaches and we discussed my goals of winning the conference and becoming an All-American, and we quickly discovered that I didn’t understand my ‘why’ as Coach Weiss would put it. The ‘why’ is the reason that we do what we do. It’s easy to forget your ‘why’, the season is grueling, school is tough, and you have a bunch of different aspects of your life pulling in different directions, so going through the motions can be a simple solution to cope with all of the stress, which is what I had done at times. I knew I needed to change this, and I also knew I couldn’t do it alone; I needed to rely on my coaches, roommates, family, friends and teammates in order to keep my ‘why’ in perspective.
For the first part of senior year I had done that; I had gotten better by leaps and bounds from the previous years, I was beating guys who used to crush me, and was just having a good time. That lasted until the Cliff Keen tournament in Las Vegas in early December where I wrestled well but experienced a minor setback in a knee injury. The injury wasn’t serious but it had shaken me mentally, I was training at such a high level, I felt great and I had the utmost confidence in myself until that point which is something that had never happened in my wrestling career. The toughness of the season hit me during this time; I forgot my ‘why’ and I reverted back to the David Ng from previous years. I was in a slump for all of the dual meets (from January to February), but I was better for it because I was able to fall back on my family as well as my teammates and coaches. I was preparing for the conference tournament and I finally had some of my old confidence back.
“This is great because this can be the last match of your career, or you can win and achieve a long-time goal of yours.” I remember this moment so clearly; it could’ve been yesterday. It was the last thing I heard from Coach Weiss before I stepped out onto the mat for the fifth-place match at the conference tournament. If I won, I was going to the NCAA tournament in St. Louis. If I lost, I would be spending spring break at home once again, for the fourth consecutive year. My opponent was Garrett Ryan of Columbia; he had beaten me the last three out of four times we had wrestled, and had beaten me earlier in the tournament. If I’m being honest I was excited for the match, and the opportunity that came with it but I was much more nervous than usual. I ended up winning a close match 2-0 and I earned my bid to the national tournament. I was ecstatic but I knew there was work to be done for the national tournament in St. Louis. Fast forward two weeks and I’m in the arena, two days before the big dance; the atmosphere was full of nervous excitement, anxiety, and a tension so palpable you’d be able to cut it. I was excited, I felt great and was surprisingly calm. I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked at the tournament; I won one match and lost two but the experience of being at NCAA’s topped off my career/senior year and was something that I’ll never forget.
These past four years at Harvard have taught me so much and allowed me to grow not only as a competitor but more importantly as a person. I made some lifelong friends through athletics, and used the sport of wrestling to learn many life lessons along the way. I am so proud to call myself a member of the Harvard wrestling family, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I was able to have here at Harvard as a student-athlete.