Written Senior Perspective: Eliza Flint

Photo courtesy of Dawson Powers
Photo courtesy of Dawson Powers

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.

Eliza Flint, Women's Heavyweight Crew
Hometown: Kingsford, Australia
Concentration: Sociology
House Affiliation: Leverett

“Quiet and strong. 1, 2, 3, RADCLIFFE.” At the beginning of practice, at the end of practice and before we go to the line to race, head coach Liz O’Leary would draw in her rowers, connecting the power within the tight circle, and lead the chant. A tradition that remains since Radcliffe crew first started, continues to tie the current and all future women of Radcliffe together. It is now my commitment to the team to continue that dedication and pass on all that I have learned onto the next generation of Radcliffe women.

Living in Cambridge was very different to living in Sydney, Australia. The climate, the environment, and the way of life were all a change that was forced upon me. A change I was unsure about at first. A change that placed me in an unfamiliar setting. A change I knew I would grow to love. I can confidently say that the family of Radcliffe crew is the fundamental reason that carried me through that change, to the place that I now call home.

Rowing is a sport that demands hard work, dedication, commitment, teamwork, and an internal willingness to put yourself in an unsustainable place for a considerable period of time. The women of Radcliffe embody each one of these characteristics with courage and passion. Even though rowing is comprised of a number of individual rowers, rowing in fact forms a mighty network of accomplished athletes that commit to doing the exact same motion in unison. There are not many situations in life that demand this kind of attention and obligation, yet it gives rowers a breath of recognition for their dedication to one team. Head coach Liz O’Leary always tells us to be the strong and powerful women of Radcliffe, to make every little bit count, and to make a difference both in rowing, in life at Harvard and beyond. I admire her dedication and commitment to the team, as well as her willingness to spend more time with the team than with her own family. Liz O’Leary has been a grounded support to me over the past four years, both through the highs and the lows, teaching me life lessons that I will treasure forever.

My time on Radcliffe Crew and as a varsity student-athlete of Harvard has been a truly remarkable experience that I will always cherish. My experience is solely shaped by my teammates and our shared sacrifice. A unique bond is further extended to other student-athletes at Harvard who too commit a great portion of their life to their sport and their team’s success. The long days with double practice, on top of a strong academic workload, plus extra-curricular activities is uncommon to most students at Harvard, yet so familiar and the only life we know as a student-athlete.

Over the years, the bond that ties each member of Radcliffe crew has become clearly apparent. It begins when the alarm hits 6 a.m. for on the water practice. Battling up and down in the basin, fighting to beat another boat, in the end makes the entire team faster stroke by stroke. It opens in the fall with long distance races up and down the length of the Charles River, across to the stadium to run up and down thirty-seven flights of stairs for time, and wraps around the circumference of the river on workout runs. It continues through the indoor winter training season. The sole reason you fight every inch is clearly evident during these tough and mentally challenging, yet highly rewarding practices. Seated on the rowing machine, you see the clock cross ninety minutes, and you look around the room, peoples’ faces filled with a sense of accomplishment are reflected off the mirrors that cover the walls, but the bond that unites each member of the team is the very fact that everyone did it together. We are all in it together. We fight together. We win together. We are one team. This is the backbone of Radcliffe crew.

As we close out the spring racing season, racing every weekend demands something else, the next level. It requires a commitment to balance academics and athletics, to test the body to its limits with minimal time to recover as the next race lures over our heads. Yet, this is what makes racing season the ultimate climax. It is not often that we get to line up against six boats from all over the country and race down the course to see who has the might to win. All the long hours of training at that point are final, there is nothing else you can do when you’re sitting on the start line, except to put it all together and see the result as one unit. Radcliffe crew clearly defines who I have become today. As a four-year varsity member of the Harvard-Radcliffe heavyweight women’s crew team, I have gained invaluable knowledge, experience, guidance and success that I will take forward as I move onto my new life after Harvard and Radcliffe.