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.
Molly Tissenbaum, Women's Ice Hockey
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
House Affiliation: Leverett
My career as a college athlete ended on senior night in mid-February, so I’ve had ample time to sit and reflect on what it means to have worn a Harvard hockey sweater for four years. It’s a strange feeling knowing that something that was once such a huge part of your identity is no longer yours. It’s strange, but also comforting, because I know that no matter how many years removed from the program I get, I will always have a home in Harvard hockey.
I feel incredibly grateful for all of the things that hockey has given me, taught me, and forced me to face. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through hockey. Being a hockey player taught me to push past my limits, both mental and physical. Hockey taught me that when you find your tribe, your quirks are part of what make you belong, not what separate you. Hockey has taught me that when strong, smart, passionate women put their minds and hearts together, incredible things are possible.
I feel lucky to have played a small part in the tradition that is the Harvard hockey program. I’ve shared the ice with Olympians, World Champions, future doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. It still leaves me in awe when I think about it.
With that said, I’ve come to realize that the single most important thing I want you all to remember is that this place is your home. I’m not talking about Harvard, or your house, or even Boston. I’m talking about your team. Team is your home, but it is also a living, breathing entity.
In some ways, Team is like a child. It requires attention. It needs to be cultivated. It requires you to be conscious of your decisions and the impact those have on the people around you. It demands that you take a look around, and ensure that your teammates are happy, safe, and having fun. It means getting to know your teammates well, so that when they are struggling, you recognize it, and you can help remedy the problem. Team requires you to be all in, with your heart and soul.
Like a child, Team requires you to be flexible, and to learn. Not everyone is going to be like you, so the onus is upon every one of us to make each other belong. It demands that you be accountable, and that when things are uncomfortable, that you stick together. It means that when you make a mistake, you own up to it, and work day and night to try and fix it. The living entity cannot survive mistakes if they are not addressed, remedied, and worked on. No mistake is permanent, but how we handle it and how we choose to react to it is.
This is your home. The Team is yours. Take care of it. Take ownership of it. Remember who has made it feel like home, and ensure that everyone who comes after you feels that way too. Do your best to make it the most productive it can be, and the most loving place you can muster. It will not be easy. It will require concerted efforts, and it will force you to step outside of what you’re used to. It will force you to face your biases, and when you do, you may find yourself realizing that you were wrong, and in the process find a new best friend, new favorite food, or new study strategy.
Be yourself and stay true to your values, no matter what life throws at you. Be yourself, but take care of this thing. Be careful to not let the values slip through the cracks. Honor the tradition, nurture it, and you will be rewarded with friendships that last long after you graduate.