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.
Whitney Thornburg, Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field
Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
Concentration: History of Art and Architecture
House Affiliation: Eliot
Senior year has certainly been the highpoint of my athletic career. With training and racing going better than ever, this year has been full of new lifetime best performances on the track and trail. Though I love the simple pleasure of running fast, the true joy and satisfaction comes from the memories and experiences I have built with my teammates. I learn from my teammates every day. During easy runs along the Charles River, they leave me with smiles and laughter, erasing my worries. On the track, we push each other lap after lap to the point of exhaustion while somehow providing silent yet necessary support. Rather than growing tired of each other after hours and hours training, we seek to spend even more time together eating, studying, or simply sitting and rambling on in trivial conversation. As a senior, time seems to have moved so quickly over the last four years. I have been so fortunate to spend this quality time with my team where I have built some of my deepest friendships. As a cross country and track athlete, I have spent 12 seasons alongside my team, logging miles in the sun, rain and snow. With no “off-season” to spend time away from my teammates, I have been fortunate enough to have them as a constant community during my entire experience at Harvard.
This experience is very opposite from my time in high school. My cross-country team struggled to have even five girls to score at any given meet. We did not have a track team until my junior year when my friend and I begged the athletic department to let us compete individually on the track wearing the cross-country uniforms. I realized that I lacked high-level competition in my small school association, but I was hungry to improve as a runner and I knew I was up for the challenge of collegiate DI athletics. Though my performances did not warrant any attention, Coach Saretsky was kind enough to give me a chance at Harvard, offering me a walk-on spot on the track and cross country teams.
Four years later, I look back at an incredible time of growth and development for me as a student and a runner. My experience on the team taught me how to overcome numerous health and training hardships. It forced me to learn from mistakes both in training and academics. It showed me the value in long-term sacrifices to achieve my goals. I am so thankful to have been a part of Harvard track and field and the historic Ivy League.