The 2019 Senior Perspectives is the 14th 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.
Harvard Men's Golf
As I reflect on my four years spent on the Harvard men’s golf team, these are the first words that come to mind. Coming from a high school in Belgium where English would only be the fourth language we would learn - after French, Dutch and Latin (or Greek) - my first semester away from home was not always easy. My accent was so thick that teachers, TFs and friends would not always understand me. My English was definitely not good enough for an institution like Harvard, and I had to put extra effort into everything I was doing. Adjusting to the pace of life at Harvard was a challenge I was not ready to meet alone, and thanks to the golf team, I did not have to. My teammates quickly realized the situation and constantly supported me through my first semesters. The international members of the team shared with me their own struggles and helped me avoid some of the mistakes they made as they had to navigate Harvard. I had left a family on the other side of the Atlantic to find another one in Cambridge. My freshman year was better than I would have dared to hope, and it ended with the program’s first Ivy League Championship in 41 years. While this moment will be engraved in my memory for the years to come, what really made it special in my eyes was the teammates I got to do it with. This family would carry me through my four years in college and help me go through some of the darkest moments in my life.
In addition to getting a family on campus, I was also exposed to great leadership. As a freshman, I did not really understand what the mission of the golf program -Educate Tomorrow’s Leaders - had to do with us playing on a golf course. But as I evolved through the years, I understood the significance of this. My first three years on the team, I was exposed to three incredible captains who consistently showed me and the rest of my teammates what it means to be a Harvard golfer. They all led by example, putting up the extra effort to inspire the rest of us to do the same. At the end of junior year, being chosen by my teammates to be their captain and continue the amazing legacy of the previous captains was the highlight of my career as a golfer. It showed the trust and respect that they had in me as a teammate and leader on the team, but it also meant a great deal of responsibility. While it was by far the most rewarding experience of my Harvard career, I would lie if I said that it has always been easy. As a leader, I realized the importance of self-questioning and sacrifice, but this was not without struggles. It now fell onto me to help my younger teammates the way I received help during my years as an underclassman. However, I embraced this responsibility on the team and grew up as a person and teammate.
This program has given me so much, from the experiences to the people I got to meet, but most importantly, for all the friends I made. This has been the most important part of my Harvard experience for four years. It challenged me in ways that I would have never been challenged without it. It helped me prepare for the next big steps in my life post-graduation. It played a huge part in making me the man I am today.