Senior Perspective: Men's Volleyball's Gil Weintraub

Senior Perspective: Men's Volleyball's Gil Weintraub

Senior captains and representatives of varsity teams at Harvard contributed viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard. Each year the Senior Perspectives are compiled into a book and handed out at the Senior Letterwinner’s Dinner.

Senior Perspectives thus forms a valuable portion of each team’s legacy to sport at Harvard and to the permanent record built here by our varsity athletes. Throughout the summer, these senior essays will be posted to for all to see.

There is something undeniably special about one’s senior season.  Perhaps it is the confidence that after three years of experience as a collegiate athlete we are finally ready to control our destiny.  Perhaps it is the feelings of responsibility and leadership that makes our relationship with our team inherently paternal (or maternal). Or maybe it is the certainty that the end is near. I don’t mean this in some sort of apocalyptic, overly dramatic sense, but more as a matter of fact.  Regardless of how the season goes, in spite of how admirably we individually or collectively may perform the 2009-2010 season will mark the end of our careers as Harvard athletes.   

Like every Harvard athlete I returned to Cambridge this year with my expectations set exceedingly high.  I wanted to leave my mark.  I wanted this season to be memorable.  The pressure and anxiety that accompany this desire can be overwhelming.  Oftentimes in athletics, we come to equate being memorable with being successful.  Thus, over our careers here we have fought for a place in annals of Harvard Athletics.  Unfortunately, as seniors, we are not as naïve as we may have been when we first arrived.  Far too many of us of learned that athletic excellence and accolades are not guaranteed and are often contingent upon things outside of our personal control.

My senior year has been plagued with a series of disappointing setbacks.  Between a strained hamstring, a fractured foot, multiple eye infections, and a severely strained groin, my senior season has not gone at all like I had imagined it.  These injuries have given me the time to reflect on my remaining time as a varsity athlete here at Harvard.  In this limbo state between player and onlooker, I have spent more time than I care to think about watching my team continue to compete without me.  Sitting on the bench, and watching my teammates play without question has been the most trying experience in my athletic career.  Sitting on the sidelines, it is easy to feel discarded.  How quickly will our legacy be forgotten? It has taken me a long time to realize that what I have been fighting for is not to be remembered by my statistics or records, but rather by my character: who I was and how I contributed to my team. After four years, I can say without reservation that the best part of being an athlete at Harvard is the relationships and bonds forged in training and competing.   I now know that it is our relationships with our teammates that will be our lasting legacy.

So, to my fellow seniors my message is simple, one that you already know but that I hope you take to heart: Do not measure your worth as varsity athlete in wins or victories, but only in friendships created and memories made.  Congratulations to the senior letterwinners. Let’s make some memories.