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.
Spencer Kiehm, Wrestling
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Concentration: Human Development & Regenerative Biology
House Affiliation: Dunster
In August of 2014 when I first stepped onto Harvard’s campus, I was both excited to be in a completely new environment over 5,000 miles away from home (Honolulu, HI) and terrified by the daunting task of adjusting to a new academic, athletic, and social atmosphere. This mixture of emotions was compounded by the fact that I made the relatively late decision to wrestle in college and was nervous about what the next few years on the team had in store. However, these fears and uncertainties were largely eliminated once I finally met my teammates with whom I would form some of the closest bonds.
That is not to say that I didn’t still harbor fears and insecurities throughout my time on the team. Like many students and athletes, I sometimes wondered if I belonged in my position and if I was really contributing positively to those around me. Through the mental and physical demands of early-morning lifts, pre-season conditioning, and afternoon practices, the thought of quitting certainly crossed my mind more than once. However, when I was brought to understand by my teammates and coaches that wrestling was a means for building intangibles such as leadership, camaraderie, responsibility, accountability, and mental and physical resilience, the thought of giving up the sport transformed into a desire to invest more into it.
Thanks to my coaches and teammates, I realized over time how many valuable things wrestling can teach you if you do your best to stay positive and always keep an open mind. I learned that whether in an unfamiliar wrestling position or in a new phase of life, staying comfortable gets you nowhere. I also learned that progress is almost never linear, and that even the most directed, purposeful work results in peaks and valleys. It is always best to focus on one step at a time and trust that doing the right thing will help you to reach your goals and expectations.
Maybe most importantly, I learned the value of investing in relationships and in the success of others. A lot of students come to a renowned academic institution like Harvard and believe that the most valuable things they will leave with are a degree and an education. However, seeing how much time, effort, and passion my coaches and teammates have invested into the success of the team and into each of us individually, I believe that the most valuable things I am leaving with are the relationships I’ve formed and the things I’ve learned from them.
I am forever grateful to my parents, coaches, training staff, and teammates for making these past four years so incredibly memorable. Being a part of this team has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life so far, and I will certainly miss every aspect of it going forward