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.
Chris Egi, Men's Basketball
Hometown: Markham, Ontario
House Affiliation: Kirkland
They always told me that someday the ball would stop bouncing. With my senior season, and my last year as a member of the Harvard basketball program coming to a close, I guess that time has come. I have spent the last 11 years of my life competing as a student athlete, and as my career has come to its end, I realize that it is time to discover new parts of me. However, I also realize that I will never shed the identity of being a student athlete. The experiences I have gained and the lessons I’ve learned throughout my athletic career and particularly throughout my career at Harvard have been formative and life changing. They will always be a part of me. And what better way to reflect on them than through a series of quotes from our head coach Tommy Amaker.
“Our goal is not to win a championship, Our goal is to become a championship team”- Coach Amaker
Those words are probably the best summary of my final season suiting up for the Harvard Crimson I could find. As senior captain, I was tasked with leading a young team, playing mostly sophomores and freshmen to that goal of becoming a championship team. And what I came to realize along the way was that the quote wasn’t simply a nice soundbite. Coach Amaker’s quote was important because of his focus on the process rather than the end result. On the journey and not the destination. The word becoming means so much in this context. And the word becoming meant so much for our team. After struggling to start the season, despite our preseason hype, we worked through our issues every day, pushing along on our journey, in our process of becoming. And by focusing on that process, and by pushing through the difficult times, we not only became a championship team, but we won an Ivy League championship as well. My second title in four years here, and the programs first since my freshman year. All in all, a successful season!
With all the success of the basketball season that just passed, it’s incredible to say that some of my best experiences were the ones that took place off the court. We were blessed with the opportunity to engage with a variety of experiences that encouraged us to do good in our society on top of doing well in the classroom and on the court.
“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender”- Coach Amaker
We had the privilege to attend the W.E.B. Du Bois medal ceremony, where a stunning cast of excellent African American leaders were awarded. Awardees included Ava Duvernay, LL Cool J, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Microsoft Board Chair John Thompson, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, visual artist Kara Walker, and philanthropist Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer ’89, who was honored posthumously. Witnessing this ceremony and getting the chance to speak with LL Cool J and John Thompson personally, gave us the opportunity to see these leaders up close and learn about their life experiences firsthand. In the face of adversity and naysayers and discrimination, these individuals rose above and found ways to have lasting impact. They didn’t give up.
“Don’t forget your responsibility. That is to do well AND to do good”- Coach Amaker
This fall, we had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Harry Edwards, a leader in the African American community, particularly when it came to issues of athlete activism. Dr. Edwards came to school to discuss the issue of activism in sport, and the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling. As members of the basketball team, we had the privilege of sharing a meal with Dr. Edwards and asking him questions. It was an honor to meet such an esteemed individual and meeting him truly inspired me to do more work within the black community.
We also got the chance to meet with Cornell West, the esteemed philosopher and academic, as part of the Faculty, Food and Fellowship initiative. We had dinner with him and listened to him talk on subjects ranging from athletics to Aretha Franklin. At the center of it all, however, was the idea of love. A raging and radical love that is unrelenting. And it’s the idea of love that reminds me of the opportunity that I enjoyed most this season. The chance to visit the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. We had the chance to rap, dance, play and do homework with young men and women from the community. This experience truly made me see the impact that we, as student athletes at Harvard, could have on these kids.
All in all, I’m truly blessed to have been able to play for this fantastic Harvard basketball program over the years. I think I might be even more blessed to have learned the lessons I learned off the court. The ball has in fact stopped bouncing, but thanks to the experiences afforded me at Harvard through basketball, this student-athlete has learned what it means to make a difference.