Written Senior Perspective - Sammy Oh, Men's Cross Country/Track & Field

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.

Sammy Oh
Dunster House
Harvard Men's Cross Country/Track & Field
Concentration: Philosophy and Computer Science

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” -Soren Kierkegaard

As my time at Harvard comes to a close, I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate these past four years; to look back and understand what the last four years with Harvard Athletics have meant to me; to try and piece together and understand the disparate choices and decisions that led to the seemingly nonlinear trajectory of my Harvard career.

I joined the cross country team in the Fall of 2015 with a vision of what I thought my four years would be like: continual athletic progression, personal and program-wide success, a tight-knit community. Fast-forward four years, and I’ve dealt with numerous injuries that kept me out for months; I’ve switched events on the track; we’ve struggled to finish where we wanted as a team and most of the seniors I started with are no longer running with the team. In the moment, most of these things seemed to not make sense. But, looking back I can now see how these pieces fit into the bigger picture of redefining success in my own life.

I raced at my final H-Y race this past weekend and finished slower than I would’ve when I started college. Yet, I walked off the track, happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ve learned that success isn’t linear, and the best metric to measure my own sense of success on the team isn’t based solely on my current times. I have friends on this team that I care about deeply, I am healthy and able to train consistently and I am above all else, enjoying each moment of the process of training with my coach and team. Knowing these things, I’m able to step off the track with a genuine smile on my face regardless of comparative outcomes.

In the end, I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to continue my athletic career here at Harvard. I’m thankful to my coach, Jason Saretsky, for supporting my athletic and academic career throughout the four years with flexibility and understanding. I’m thankful to my teammates throughout the years who have taught me the importance of supporting one another and working hard. And I’m thankful for the setbacks, the injuries, the difficult times and the good times, each moment that has brought me to the point I’m at today.