The 2017 Senior Perspectives is the 12th 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.
Kalvis Hornburg, Apline Skiing
Hometown: Traverse City, Mich.
House Affiliation: Winthrop
I walked into Harvard thinking I was done with competitive sports. But here I am four years later: a two-sport Division 1 walk-on and a varsity letter sweater to my name. For me, my time on the lightweight crew team and then the alpine skiing team split my college career right down the middle. Looking back, I feel like I have had college divided into two two year chunks. Each taught me very different lessons and I cherish for very different reasons.
I joined the fifty odd group of potential walk-ons a few weeks late into freshman fall with no experience in a boat. There I met Coach Muri, who put us through the wringer every day of the fall. By the end of a few weeks and many a stadium run, there was only a small group of us left. Ultimately, Linda taught me the true power of perseverance and teamwork. Rowing was so new to me and so painful and eventually, when spring rolled around, so rewarding. All the times when practice seemed unbearable or the day seemed like it could have been better spent enjoying the river rather than ripping along it all paid off. I made the 1F boat and we battled our way to an undefeated regular season. Linda’s ability to lead by example, to the point of running the marathon while undergoing chemotherapy, taught me the true meaning of ‘mind over matter.’ We would fight through tough race pieces, if not for ourselves, for Linda. I also learned to sync. The boat needed to match so perfectly that any miniscule deviation felt like a seismic shock. That ability to truly trust and believe in your teammates, coupled with the drive and perseverance to not let them down is something that will always stick with me.
After having had two amazing years with the rowing team and developing many lifelong friendships, another opportunity fell into my lap. I was offered a spot on the alpine ski team and bid adieu to oars. Skiing had been one of my greatest passions before coming to Harvard and I thought I had kissed it goodbye. It was clear, however, that I had never really managed to get over this particular ex. Competing against some of the best racers in the world and getting the opportunity to train and race a sport I loved so much taught me the need for passion. 4:15 AM wakeups and the thought of sitting on a chairlift with wind-chill in the negatives were more than manageable in my excitement. With such a short racing season, only two years of athletics remaining, and the gift of such an exciting sport I had missed dearly, I soaked up the moments like a sponge. I hope, too, that that passion and excitement rubbed off on those around me.
It can be easy to view athletics at Harvard as a chore. It can be a lot of time of your life spent thanklessly striving with your teammates, time that might otherwise be spent sleeping or finishing problem sets. Sometimes it is helpful, however, to take a step back and realize why it is we participate in athletics. Joy of the sport, and the lessons unique to each sport, stick with us. In the end, athletics here at Harvard provided me with so much more than I could have envisioned.