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.
Keegan Mendez, Women's Squash
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Concentration: Biomedical Engineering
House Affiliation: Kirkland
What I will take away from my college experience has little to do with the problem sets I have completed or the exams I have written. Years from now, I will have forgotten many of the “facts” and formulas I have learned, but I will always cherish my experiences. My collegiate journey has been defined by intangibles. I have had sweet successes and bitter failures. I have had euphoric victories and crushing defeats. I have explored my passions and discovered new ones. Each step of the way, I have had a family in my teammates. The shared experiences, whether they were triumphant victories for national titles, or heartbreaking losses in championship finals, have been the most memorable. Perhaps more memorable, however, are the long bus rides, the karaoke parties with coaches, the gossip sessions before practice, and the team movie nights during J-term. These experiences remind me of the family and community that I have gained through Harvard squash. These experiences give the sense of belonging.
I have found best friends among my teammates, always there to support me through tough matches, make me laugh when I’m having a bad day, and listen to my thesis presentation, respectfully nodding when appropriate while pretending to understand. I have found a lifelong role model and fatherly figure in my head coach, receiving counsel on everything from court movement and swing shape, to boys, heartbreak, and dating. Our coach has given me perspective. Why feel pressure when “one billion people in China don’t give a ~darn~ about the outcome of the match?” At the end of the day, we’re all just “chasing around a small black ball in a big glass box.” In order to get better, you have to get worst first. When you’re having a bad day in the office, you can still win with your “B Game.” When the going gets tough, you must “stay the same.”
Overall, what I will cherish most from my collegiate athletics experience are the relationships I have formed. Undoubtedly, Harvard squash will be my team for life.