The 2016 Senior Perspectives is the 11th 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 2016 Senior Perspectives, click here.
Branden Clemens, Men's Volleyball, Team Co-Captain
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
House Affiliation: Dunster
My experience as a student-athlete at Harvard has really helped to establish a set of principles by which I will continue to live for the rest of my life. While this four year process sometimes feels like a battle of attrition, the commitment made to your team supersedes these difficulties. Decisions that promote on the court excellence and off the court success become obligatory. This way of life instills a winning combination of academic curiosity, physical well-being, and a strong-rooted character.
Upon entering this academic institution, I was unsure of what I wanted to study. In high school, like most students here, I undertook a varied course load with a personal preference towards math, science, and foreign language courses. With the accessibility of a diverse curriculum and some advice from fellow teammates, I realized my end goal: a concentration in economics, a secondary in statistics, and a citation in French. However, what was more important was the journey, the classes I took along the way both related and unrelated to those core studies. Courses like Science and Cooking, Molecules of Life, the Hebrew Bible, and Global Health Challenges encouraged my diverse education. Even moving forward, I will be pursuing a job in real estate development, responsible for asset management of various properties. This breadth has greatly augmented and will continue to aid in my learning.
The most apparent benefit of being a student-athlete is the habits formed concerning diet and exercise. As a team, HMV benefits greatly from a lifting regimen at PD with Coach Luke. From his passion, I have found a genuine interest in working out as a means to stay healthy and to enhance my playing ability. Both of our trainers, Laura and Matt, always sought to help out whenever we unfortunately were injured. They helped to instill good icing and stretching practices and provided us with the knowledge to avoid bad biomechanic habits. Lastly, whether it was meetings with the athletic department’s nutritionist or talks amongst teammates such as Nick Madden and DJ White, who many would describe as health nuts, my college experience has greatly augmented my diet and lifestyle. I know that I have a sustainable, healthy way of life I can continue post graduation.
One side effect of practicing volleyball day-in and day-out, aside from obviously becoming a better player, is that you become a better person. The necessity of being responsible to show up, bring your best effort, and contribute positively is a lesson useful throughout life. As one of the smaller teams on campus, my ten teammates, two coaches, and I all are essential everyday in order to make progress. These constant expectations force you to abide by strict guidelines that bring about organic maturation. The word I would use for the expectations of my teammates and myself is personal accountability. Each of my teammates and I have our own unique schedule; we study different things, partake in different extracurricular activities, and lead very different lives. However, this existence highlights the importance of separating work and play, or better put, prioritization and time management.
Overall, my time spent as a member of HMV has been one of the most difficult but most rewarding experiences of my life. I love, respect, and appreciate every member of this athletic program I can dearly call my family, including the players past and present, the families and friends of the program, and of course the coaches. Coach Baise has done a tremendous job creating a successful program in his eight years, one that exudes all of these positive externalities. I will always respect his faith in me as a volleyball player, student, and individual that would take advantage of the innumerable opportunities a student-athlete at Harvard has at their fingertips. I hope that as my time as an undergraduate fades away, I will take away these habits and make good use of them. As many of Harvard’s presidents have envisioned, I hope and believe that upon leaving this university we student-athletes will become good Samaritans, benefitting society as our careers commence.