Written Senior Perspectives - Maddy Kaplan, Softball

Written Senior Perspectives - Maddy Kaplan, Softball

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.

Maddy Kaplan, Softball
Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif.
Concentration: Economics
House Affiliation: Eliot

As a spring athlete, I am still in season as I write this reflection – working with my teammates and coaches everyday towards our common goal.  I haven’t hung up my jersey for the last time nor said my goodbyes. One of my personal goals for my senior season is to not reflect on my career too early or be prematurely sentimental, but to stay focused on being in the moment and helping my team reach our potential.  I want to finish my final season with no regrets.

That being said, I can reflect on what my team has accomplished thus far and how we will continue to approach our season.  I am fortunate to lead this team alongside my co-captain and fellow seniors. Our class of five seniors has stayed strong and connected throughout our four years at Harvard.  We have grown together and worked to build a legacy in our senior year of treating teammates with kindness, striving for excellence on and off the field, and having fun in the process.  I am proud to be a part of what we have accomplished and look forward to finishing strong with them by my side.

The 2018 Harvard softball team has faced several challenges.  This is not surprising as most teams face adversity at some point, yet our reaction to these obstacles has been remarkable.  This year, our team has had an unusually high number of injuries. With our compressed Ivy League season, several key players have missed a number of important games.  While difficult and scary for these individuals and the team, the team’s response on the field has been inspiring. Our team motto this year is “TOGETHER” and our team has embodied this by sticking together, supporting each other, and stepping up for each other.

When our first baseman power hitter went down with a concussion, our starting pitcher (who has never had an at-bat in her collegiate career) was called upon to step up in a new role.  In her first collegiate at-bat, as a junior, she hit a home run. The team went wild – we sprinted out of the dugout to meet her at home plate as she jogged around the bases. For many, including myself, it felt like an out-of-body experience.  It’s always exciting when a teammate hits a home run and we get to storm the field, but the moment was even more special because when one teammate went down, another was right there to lift them and the team up.     

A few weeks later, my co-captain went down with a concussion early in the first game of a critical series.  Later that game, the bases were loaded with her spot in the lineup up to bat in a key moment. Another teammate came up and hit a line-drive up the middle to score a run.  Again, the team went wild – we jumped and screamed with joy and teammates ran up and down the dugout to exchange high fives in celebration. These are two powerful examples of our team’s ability to support each other and pick each other up but there are many more instances both on and off the field in which teammates have come together and made us all stronger.            

These moments capture our growth and resilience as a team.  We are able to stick together and create something special out of less than ideal circumstances. Our ability to use adversity as inspiration stems from the culture of support and togetherness that our team has created off the field.  We understand that sometimes things may not go our way, but we cannot let that stop us from rising up and accomplishing beyond what we think possible.

I am incredibly grateful for my experience as a student-athlete at Harvard and even more grateful for the lifelong friends I have made during my time here.  The Harvard softball program has made me a better person and will always be a part of my identity. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey and made a lasting impact.  HSB 2018 isn’t finished yet and I hope to extend my time playing in the Harvard uniform as long as possible.