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.
Laura Ricciardone, Softball, Team Co-Captain
Hometown: Slidell, La.
House Affiliation: Adams
It’s a family affair. Being a member of the Harvard Athletics community means experiencing a level of tradition, excellence and bond that is unparalleled. In my four years here, Harvard softball and family have become one in my heart. Harvard softball is more than a team playing a game with a series of wins and losses every spring. It’s a group of determined and well-rounded women, united by a common passion for the sport. It’s a support system, a source of endless laughter, and a resource for advice. Harvard softball is a family. The relationships I’ve established with coaches and teammates are ones that I will carry with me into my next chapter and beyond.
One of the most genuine core values of being a Harvard athlete is that you are doing it out of passion and respect for your sport. You are not on scholarship; you are not bound by contract. Sport differences, superstitions, and pre-game rituals aside, every athlete knows that irreplaceable feeling that comes with stepping on a playing field with your teammates. It is one of adrenaline, anticipation and competition. A brief few hours when you get to put the stresses of life and academics aside, and be surrounded by some of your closest friends playing the game you love. This is an opportunity many athletes do not get to experience at the Division I level, much less at one of the best academic institutions in the world. But, it is something that we get to do day in and day out in our time here at Harvard University.
Over the last four years, I’ve gotten to play the sport I love with girls who have gone from teammates, to friends, to family. This game has taken me places I had never even dreamed of going. From back-to-back Ivy titles and Ivy League dominance, to beating Louisiana State University on its home field for a history making SEC win, to NCAA Regional postseason finals, Harvard softball has been the defining experience of my last four years here.
As I step away from collegiate athletics and my softball-playing career officially comes to a close, I can only hope to impact future players in the way this game, my coaches and teammates have impacted me. Being a member of Harvard Athletics has allowed me to challenge myself to go beyond what I thought I was physically, mentally, or emotionally possible. It gave me the opportunity to set goals for myself and pursue them with an obsessed passion. And to always respect the game and the opponent, but to never fear it. I’ve learned to love the grind that comes with morning conditioning workouts, impossible lifts, and talented competition. For half of my time as a Harvard athlete, I’ve had the incredible pleasure of serving as a team captain. This task, however demanding, has taught me invaluable lessons about myself and working with others. Being a captain has allowed me to give back a small fraction of what this program has given me.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you will realize the full potential of the gift you have earned in being a member of Harvard Athletics early in your career. Love the game and pursue greatness with reckless abandon, as you only have a limited time to take advantage of this dream. Make the effort to know your teammates, they will become your family and are a defining characteristic of this experience. The memories, lessons, and relationships bestowed upon me through Harvard softball are something I will take with me for the rest of my life. I will forever leave a piece of my heart with this program.