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.
Taylor Finley, Women's Basketball
Hometown: Edina, Minn.
House Affiliation: Leverett
My brother taught me what it means to work hard and follow your dreams. My sister Brooke taught me what true patience and strength look like. My oldest sister Kelly taught me what it means to be selfless and passionate, but she also gave me the best advice I have ever received: go to Harvard, it will be an experience of a lifetime. I hate to admit it, but oldest sister always knows best.
This place is special. Its history is unparalleled, and academically, it’s the best in the world. But what truly makes it special, are the people. Harvard is full of the most talented, hard working, remarkable individuals, and I saw an important piece of this every day when I walked into Lavietes Pavilion. I have never seen so many motivated, relentless, and strong women under one roof. We all have Kathy Delany-Smith to thank for that. Not only because she was the binding force that brought us all to Harvard, but also because this is how she shaped us as individuals. Kathy invested so much into helping us grow far beyond just great basketball players. Every lesson on the court had a higher purpose. She is a competitor and a fighter, and made it her mission to not only win basketball games but also provide the world with strong women.
I have certainly been pushed to my physical, mental, and emotional limits the past four years. There were times where I, the one that you never thought stopped smiling, felt like I just could not go any further. Where concussions got the best of me and I didn’t even know myself anymore. But what I learned was that those very moments of weakness were when I became my strongest. This is growth. This is the challenge with playing Division I basketball at Harvard University. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s not for everyone. But for those who helped me accept this challenge, I am forever grateful.
Senior year brought its own weight: a sense of urgency. Freshman year, you are quite literally just trying to survive. But then you blink. Suddenly there is just one more chance to hang a banner, to settle the scores with our Ivy opponents, to keep promises made to teammates and to yourself, to honor our past and inspire the future. My final season was not perfect, but I realized there is beauty in imperfection. As Kathy often reminded us, “perfect is boring”. To play for a coach that does not expect perfection, yet demands excellence is hard to come by, but is exactly why she is so successful. This season showcased a school record win streak in non-conference play, yet ended with an unwanted abruptness. A moment that you know is coming, but still tears at your heart. What follows the draining tears and emotions is the finality of that daily walk over the Charles, and your visit to your locker in Lavietes for the last time. All the memories begin to flow as the mind begins to recover and calm. Disappointments that seemed so big at the time suddenly seem small, and the times of laughter and joy surpass the rest. Learning soon becomes knowledge, and I realize just how precious time is. Four years gone too fast.
The overwhelming feeling I am left with as my senior year ends is that I am so thankful. I am truly thankful for every opportunity. For the opportunity to fight for an Ivy League championship, to come into the gym each day and compete with the people I love most, and even run those dreaded lumberjacks. Most of all I am thankful for my teammates, family and coaches who were there every step of this incredible journey. This experience has been everything and more, as promised by my big sister Kelly Rae.