The 2018 Senior Perspectives is the 13th 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.
Alexa Altchek, Softball
Hometown: Livingston, N.J.
Concentration: Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolution
House Affiliation: Quincy
Dear Harvard Softball,
Thank you. There is so much that I would like to say to you after these four years, but I think it sums up to just thank you. Who I am and who I have become is attributable to Harvard softball. Over four years, I have learned what it means to be a good teammate through the good, the bad, and the ugly (all of which I have definitely experienced) and how to push myself further than I ever thought possible.
When I stepped onto campus freshman year, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to play softball anymore. Years of tournaments and practices had caused me to burn out, and starting it all over again in college seemed like an impossible feat. My teammates, my best friends in the whole world, were the ones that kept me coming back for more. Thank you for giving me a family that has changed my entire world, who made me fall in love with softball again each and every day. These are the sisters with whom I have to spend six days every week – and also with whom I choose to spend the seventh.
Thank you, Harvard softball, for the memories, big and small, that will be everything that I remember. I won’t remember the times I struck out, the practices in the bubble that seemed to span through multiple centuries, or the rainy days spent in the Gordon track. What I will remember is the time we did karaoke to Rihanna in the airport in Georgia. I’ll remember the late nights in Quincy Dining Hall, laughing so hard we couldn’t even get work done. I’ll remember the feeling of almost blacking out in the Dartmouth dugout from screaming so loudly during the seventh inning comeback to win the North Division title. I’ll remember the times I wanted to quit, and yes, “times” is plural. I’ll remember them because those were the moments that I leaned on my teammates the most. They helped me pull out a level of strength that I didn’t even know I had.
Thank you, Harvard softball, for always reminding me of my worth. Saying I was never the star of the team is an understatement. Three years went by with me rarely even seeing the field, but my team and my coaches never made me feel like I was any less important. They believed in me 100%, even when I had trouble believing in myself. Through Harvard softball, I learned how to have an impact and make a difference no matter where I was on the field. One of my favorite Harvard softball traditions is when someone on the team gets a hit or has a good at-bat. While cheering, every single person in the dugout turns and gives the people around them a high five. We congratulate and encourage each other because each and every one of us contributed to that teammate’s success. The constant support that Harvard softball instills, along with a never-ending mindset of team first, make this program incredible.
One day, a day that is approaching faster than I’d like to admit, my days will no longer be filled with softball. I will not be wind-whipped while trudging across the river to practice in the winter months. I will not be aching in every muscle in my body after a three (or four) game Ivy weekend. The bruises on my legs from 15 years of practices and games will all eventually fade. What I know will never fade is the smile on my face when I think about my time spent jumping and screaming in the dugout, the teammates that have become my family, and the person that I have become.
Thank you, Harvard softball, for everything.