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.
Kalina Grabb, Women’s Water Polo
Hometown: Boulder, Colo.
Concentration: Engineering Sciences, Earth and Planetary Sciences
House Affiliation: Adams
At the beginning of my senior season, my childhood friend who had just finished her varsity sport career inspired me to appreciate every moment throughout my final season; to look around every day at practice, enjoy it, smile, and be proud to wear the crimson “Harvard,” because we are the only ones lucky enough to play Harvard water polo (HWP). While it is difficult to imagine my life beyond Harvard without the daily swim sets, the weekly lifts, the outlet of competition and, most importantly, my teammates, I gain some sense of acceptance when I think of the memories and friendships that will accompany me for the rest of my life.
Playing varsity water polo for Harvard has defined my college experience. For four years, the team has not only been a family to me, but the team has been my home; water polo has been the one constant that was always there for me through the transient classes, variant lunch schedules, and infinite club meetings that seemingly define most Harvard student’s lives. Throughout my time at Harvard, there have been several times when I personally, as well as others, have questioned why - why throw our time into this sport? Upon reflection, I realize that no one outside my 14 teammates can really explain this to its fullest. The things that I have gained through playing water polo for Harvard are much more intricate than the simple words “student-athlete” that decorate my resume.
With the expectations of commitment, responsibility, and performance, the seven different class years that have formed the four teams that I was a part of automatically became my best friends and knew me better than anyone else at Harvard. From the way I look when I want the ball to score or when I want to complete my homework on the bus to how I respond when a girl kicks me in the face or when I got a bad grade on a test, my teammates are the ones that understand me, both in and out of the pool. Through the ups and downs, the wins and losses, morning practices, long bus rides, and joys of competition, there is no other group at Harvard that I can trust more than HWP to always be there for me. There is something about struggle, the sacrifices, and the pain that we all experience together and give up in order to be a part of this team that really binds us together. The celebrations, the successes, and the victories that we have worked so hard for are only tangential rewards that seem to justify our experience. Yet, water polo has given each one of us so much more than can ever be put into words.
When I arrived freshman year from Colorado, I never expected to be the star player, or even to be a part of the starting line up. Water polo was my passion and I was playing for the love of the game, not the minutes within a game. No matter what my role was on the team, my teammates still treated everyone the same, with the loving care of sisters and the bond that best friends share for a lifetime. This is the environment that has stuck with our team for four years and is something that I am so proud of HWP for; no matter if we were the ones scoring the goals, making the blocks, or cheering from the bench, we, as a family, would succeed together or lose together, and this is what we stand for.
With only countable games left in my senior season, swimming out with the starting lineup this year, I realize how far I have come as a water polo player, but more importantly, how far water polo has brought me in life. Beyond the commitment and determination that HWP has taught me to embody, being a student-athlete at Harvard has taught me how to work hard for my teammates to obtain a common goal shared by all. It has taught me to dedicate myself to the things and people that really matter in life. It has showed me the rewards of hard work and the struggles that must be overcome in order to succeed.
HWP has left me with my best friends for life and memories that we will always share. Notably, Ariel and Victoria, my two HWP classmates, have been through every step of college with me; inspiring, challenging, laughing, supporting, loving, and believing in each other – there were many days in the pool that I was playing for them more than I was playing for myself. The competitiveness that I unleash during water polo will always fuel my determination to do the best that I can no matter the task at hand. The dedication to the sport and my teammates will always be expressed by the loyalty I feel for my friends and family. And most of all, the memories of HWP will always remind me how lucky I was to be a part of Harvard water polo. I know that my teammates will always have my back and there is no other group that I would rather go into battle with than HWP.