Senior Perspective: Women's Soccer's Lizzy Nichols

Senior Perspective: Women's Soccer's Lizzy Nichols

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.

“… And I grew strong,” four small words that mean big things when I think about my last four years on the Harvard women’s soccer team. Our assistant coach, Tracey Leone, always stressed that the BIG little things make the difference in a game; as it turns out, the little things are what matter in any experience. Those four small words were among many that we screamed as we crossed the path of the historic Harvard Stadium on our way to Ohiri Field. We sang “I Will Survive” before every home game. It was our tradition. At first I thought it was silly but came to realize that it was just one of the many big little things that made my experience what it was.

We did grow strong over the past four years. My freshman season was tough. We lost almost every game, lost our coaches and felt defeated. During that spring we looked to each other and recognized that we were the only people we could rely on, but that was a lot. We trained hard that first spring when we didn’t have a coach, even harder when no one was watching us. We met our new coaching staff, and they saw the potential in us; they recognized a strong foundation and then helped us build a successful and resilient team.

This season, we hung a sign on the door of our locker room that read: ALL IN. These five letters truly meant that we were all in it together, all of us, putting everything we had into the team, into whatever task we had to do that day. We knew that we individually and collectively — all 26 of us —were in. We trusted each other, depended on each other. I touched that sign every time that I stepped over the threshold of the locker room. It was a small reminder of a big promise. And, because of the things that I have learned on this team, that promise will not end with the season or my soccer career. I will try to commit all of myself to everything that I do.

Because we were all in, we were able to grow strong together—26 strong. It wasn’t always fun, growing strong. There were travel squads, playing time, injuries, fitness tests, disappointment, hang cleans, bad days. These are the little things that make you stronger and prepare you for the big moments, the real challenges. It was the people whom we were with, our teammates, on the field and off, who got us through those challenges, big or small. Winning the Ivy League two years in a row took a lot of mental toughness. This season, most of our games were within a goal, and in many of the games that we won, we were down a goal at some point. We were resilient even in the final minutes of a match. Of course, the big moments on the field will always be the great stories that we created together, but what I will remember most is how this team has changed me through the little moments and the small traditions. Our team traditions have taught me respect, pride and determination, and have shown me how to be dependable, how to be fearless. I now know that what is important are the people next to you and that what you do and say makes you who you are. But, in the end, those little things also taught me how to have fun, even when I was all business.