Senior Perspective: Softball's Melissa Schellberg

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.

On a warm day in late April 2007, I walked up to the plate against Dartmouth pitcher Angela Megaw in what seemed like one of the longest weekends of my life. Entering the weekend, Harvard softball led the Ivy League North Division and only needed two wins against the Big Green to clinch the division title and head to the first ever Ivy League Championship. After a wild Saturday of play, our team had one win under our belt and one game to be completed at a later date, due to rain. One win against Dartmouth that Tuesday extended our season. Two wins would guarantee that the first championship series ever would be held in Cambridge. We ended up losing the first game that day, 3-2. So there we were, in the midst of game two that afternoon, in a battle for first place. Dartmouth scored first, but we quickly pushed back. Later in the game, then-freshman Lauren Murphy slammed one of her many home runs that season over the left-center fence, this time making it a grand slam. But Dartmouth wouldn’t go down without a fight, again jumping ahead of us 8-7. It was late in the game and to tell you the truth, we were flat out nervous. But that year was special, and we knew we would be driving back to Cambridge with a division title.

I walked up to the plate the next inning, and Megaw threw me two balls in a row. (Note: By the time everyone reads this, including competitors, I’ll be officially retired, so I’ll go ahead and say that if I ever have a 2-0 count against a pitcher, I’m swinging at the next pitch as hard as I can if it’s anywhere even close to the strike zone.) I knew she was coming at me and with two runners on, I hit the ball over the left-field fence. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world. Our team went on to clinch the division that game, and went on to host and defeat Penn in the Ivy League Championship on our very own field. A magical ending to a magical year. That year was just a taste of what would follow being a member of the Harvard softball team. Each year, Harvard softball has been a team of superb talent, excellent work ethic, and most of all, the most heart I have ever seen of any team in my life.

Looking back on my softball career, it’s difficult to convey how much being a part of this team has changed my life. It went by so quickly, it almost seems like a blur. Still when I think about my time at Harvard, it isn’t the Ivy League Championship, the two division titles, or the numerous individual honors awarded to our team that I think about right away. Don’t get me wrong; those were all nice, and I hope the 2010 season brings even more accolades. But somehow along the way, I found what it truly means to be a part of something bigger than myself. I have discovered what it is like to have a sister, or rather more sisters than I could ever think of having, and what it means to share a sincere mutual bond with twenty other girls. Softball has taught me things that I would never read in a book or learn from a lecture. It has taught me teamwork, leadership, and how to overcome adversity. It has taught me how to take in the good, adjust to the bad, and appreciate just how lucky I am to go to the best university in the world and play the sport that I love most. When I look back at my college years, I will think about the times during season where I saw my team six out of the seven days each week, but chose to meet up with many of them on the seventh day because it was too weird not seeing them for twenty-four hours. I’ll think about the long talks, the times we sang Celine Dion, the bus rides home, personalized handshakes, and our signature dance moves. And then I’ll think about times on the field—the hardships and the victories. I’ll think about the heartbreaks, the times we cried, the frustration, but even more the laughs, the cheers, the triumphs, and the excitement and joy from our successes.

In the end, there is not one thing I would have done differently. I will leave Harvard with no regrets. And hopefully, I will have left a little bit of myself here for future Harvard classes. Because that is what Harvard softball represents—we are a family held together by traditions, and more importantly, a desire to be the best individuals we can be. My experience as a Harvard athlete has helped me grow in so many ways, into the type of person I have always wanted to be. I feel so very fortunate to have met all of my teammates over the years and shared memories that will last a lifetime. Softball has pushed me in ways that I could have never imagined, physically, emotionally, and mentally preparing me for anything life has to offer. It has been an experience that will help define the rest of my life. I’m proud to say that I am and forever will be part of the Harvard softball family.