Written Senior Perspective: Molly Refner

Written Senior Perspective: Molly Refner

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.


Molly Renfer, Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field
Hometown: Esher, England
Concentration: History of Art and Architecture
House Affiliation: Pforzheimer 

Making the move to the U.S. was a big step for me as an international student. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I found myself nervous, but also excited about what was to come. In high school I trained alone and never had the chance to train with a team. The difference in the UK is that the majority of sports are club based. There is very little association with competing for your school, and instead you joined a club which you would then compete for. I would train in the evenings with my coach and a handful of other people of varying events. We would never have the same workout so it required a lot of passion, drive, and love of the sport to continue my success. I have many memories of endless weekends travelling to track meets across the UK. I have my parents to thank for all the support and opportunities they gave me in my sport, and know that I would not be where I am if it weren’t for them. Despite having the loving company of my parents, there was something missing. The thing that was missing is what I have now; a tight-knit group that I spend multiple hours with every day, whether it is at the track or not. Not only are they my teammates, but also my best friends. We work hard at training, but also have fun away from the track, from exploring Boston, to baking, to team talent shows. A huge benefit of being part of a varsity team at Harvard is the valuable relationships you make across each class year. As a freshman, I looked up to the seniors on the team, and today I still maintain contact. Similarly, I am very close to the freshmen on our team currently and I’m excited to see their progress and influence on the track program. 

As a senior, I’m lucky to say that I went through a relatively smooth and successful time during my first three years. I transitioned from a 400m/800m specialist my freshman year, to concentrating on the 1500m and mile in my junior year. I thought I was the fortunate one to have stayed away from injury. However, a week after ending the cross-country season my senior year, I was hit with an injury. Having never had an experience like this before, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Hours of cross training to maintain fitness did not appeal to me, and all I wanted to be doing was running. It amazed me that you never realize how much you miss something until it is taken away from you. With the indoor track season looming ahead and some big goals, I kept grinding away, swimming every day, as it was the only form of activity I could do that wouldn’t hurt my injury further. I slowly got back to running and picked up fitness relatively quickly. Contemplating whether or not to run the indoor season was a hard decision for me. After long talks with my coach, I reached the conclusion that I wanted to be out there running with my team, despite not being in peak fitness, and also knowing I wouldn’t reach the goals I had set prior to my injury. However, contributing points at our Ivy League Championships and consequently winning our third Indoor Heptagonal title in a row made the decision so worthwhile. Looking back on it, I couldn’t have made a better choice. I took the opportunity that Harvard had given me and thrived running next to my teammates. 

Now in the outdoor season, I take this experience with me, as it shaped me into the runner I am today, and taught me to appreciate my sport. One of the toughest parts of being injured is the mental rollercoaster. My teammates helped me through the steps, whether they were there to talk to me, train with me, or comfort me. On top of this, the coaches were equally as important. The guidance and support they give is priceless, and they continue to believe in you. The community of the track team is what makes Harvard a special place for me. In my eyes, there is nowhere I would rather be. I can’t wait to finish up my senior year travelling with the team on our Harvard/Yale - Oxford/Cambridge tour in the UK that only occurs once every four years. It is a privilege to be part of something so special.