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Parting Shot: My Failure as a Varsity Athlete

By Glynis K. Healey, Crimson Staff Writer

Immediately after our last college finals ended, while camping in the woods, my Senior Outdoor Reflection Trip [SORT] of 11 people sat around in a circle, each person reflecting on their time at Harvard. By the time it got to me, it was pouring rain and pitch-black outside, but still, everyone turned to listen to my deep, thoughtful ruminations on the last four years.

Unfortunately, I hate public speaking, so I honestly don’t remember half the things I said because I’m pretty sure I blacked out. I have, however, been doing me for the last 22 years, so I do know that I talked way too fast and probably tried to make a joke that definitely didn’t go over well.

If anyone on SORT 3 reads this, I’m sorry you had to listen to that. This is my attempt to make up for it.

I grew up 30 minutes away in Southborough, Mass., with three younger siblings and two parents who not only went to Harvard, but played basketball and rowed crew here back in the day. Unsurprisingly, sports were a big deal in my family, and in high school I made a very solid case for myself as a future D-III runner. I ended up here instead, and followed in my mom’s footsteps by walking onto the lightweight crew team. I loved the girls I walked onto the team with, and I liked rowing enough, so as freshman year ended, I figured I had a pretty clear idea of what the next three years would look like.

Obviously, I was wrong, and I like to call sophomore year the story of my failure as a varsity athlete. All my friends quit the team, school all of a sudden got a lot harder, and things just sort of went downhill from there. I spent the vast majority of my sophomore fall crying at random moments in public places, and after finishing up the fall season, I quit. The rest of sophomore year wasn’t great, by any means, but I started getting an adequate amount of sleep and stopped bursting into tears in Cabot dining hall.

All of this led me to junior fall, which is when I, as a master procrastinator, finally joined the Crimson Sports Board. I spent most of the comp writing my favorite kind of stories, the ones about teams that people tend to overlook, and making fun of the freshmen, who called me the mom of their comp class and refused to drink with me. I tend to think of junior year as when I actually started my real Harvard experience, and while several things contributed to that readjustment, the Crimson was a significant part of the second half of my college career.

I spent senior week at the end of my junior year sitting in the basement of the Crimson, copy-editing everything in sight and drinking tequila mixed with orange soda at two in the afternoon with Julian Ryan, as he wrote some of the worst puns I’ve ever seen as the kickers under the pictures for the Year in Sports. I shared a one-bedroom apartment with Jacob Feldman for a week (Match15 is due tonight at midnight, fingers crossed), and I got to harass Sam Weinstock in his office at least 50 times, which is an experience I will always treasure. Finally, I found one of my best friends at Harvard as Cordelia Mendez became less “that sophomore in Cabot who’s almost as loud as me,” and more a person that I send way too many texts at inconvenient hours.

Granted, my failure as a varsity athlete is still very real, and I won’t graduate with one of those cool varsity sweaters (although I did get invited to the senior letterwinners’ dinner because they accidentally left me on the email list). I haven’t written an article for the Crimson since January, so I can’t pretend it’s been a huge part of these last few incredibly wonderful and strange months. But still, the sports board, and many things related to it, reverberated throughout my senior year in any number of ways. I would comp again in a heartbeat.

So overall, reflecting on my time at this wonderful, crazy, ridiculous, infuriating institution? My Harvard experience has not been perfect. It probably could have been better, or at least different. There could have been less stress, less heartbreak, more of me actually knowing what was going on as opposed to just blindly making my way to this point. But I graduate in a week with some hilarious experiences and wonderful friends, and I’ll be sad when they kick me out.

Also, I’m sorry I cried so much.

Staff writer Glynis K. Healey can be reached at

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