Written Senior Perspective - Brooke Istvan, Women's Volleyball

Photo by Gil Talbot
Photo by Gil Talbot

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.

Brooke Istvan, Women's Volleyball
Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill. 
Concentration: Applied Mathematics
House Affiliation: Winthrop

who are we? hvb

Who Are We? Hvb


This pregame cheer echos in my thoughts as I think back about what it meant to be a part of HVB, something bigger than myself that became so central to my college experience.

When I look back at my time on the Harvard Women’s Volleyball team, what I see is a family. I see 15 sisters and a coaching staff that supported us unconditionally while pushing us to become the best versions of ourselves. I see a group of strong women that became stronger together. We helped each other through hard times both as individuals and as a team. And, we celebrated together as we swept Penn and Princeton in a weekend or (my freshman year) beat Princeton to go to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. We also celebrated each other’s individual victories, supporting each other in life beyond volleyball. HVB embraces individual personalities and skills, while also pushing young women outside their comfort zones so that they can grow. I never cease to be impressed by the diversity of backgrounds, interests, and thoughts of the women of HVB. And, I love how well that gets incorporated into the team culture. We harnessed our diversity and used it to fuel our fire in training and competition. I will always be thankful for the strength that I found in my teammates to work my hardest on and off the court every day. Already, in the short time since our season ended, I miss the infectious energy of stepping on the court together ready to compete. I miss the team there by my side as I push my body to new limits to do just one more rep. These are things that I know I will continue to miss, but I know I will take them with me. The communication, persistence, and leadership skills I learn through my time and fellow teammates on HVB are more valuable than any skill I could have ever learned in the classroom. And, I am forever thankful for that.

When I look back on my experience as a student-athlete at Harvard, I see a community. If my team is a family, then the athletics community is like the extended family of all the cousins, aunts, and uncles who play a different sport or work in PD, Dillion, and the Murr. The community of Harvard student-athletes is really unlike any other. Athletes are supportive of each other, showing up at each other’s games in force, and understanding all that it takes to succeed on the court and in the classroom. Student-athletes have been some of the most intelligent, passionate and motivated individuals who I have met on campus, and it is incredible we all have a love of athletics to unite such a diverse community. I am thankful for that community and for all of the others involved in Harvard Athletics from administrators, trainers, and coaches, to even our own individual families and friends for fostering my love and commitment to volleyball and athletics in general.