Campus & Community

Back to play

Silhouette of person at stadium.

Photos by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

5 min read

Harvard athletes say nothing beats training and competing alongside teammates

Harvard’s varsity teams returned to the field this fall, 18 months after the pandemic shut down Ivy League sports. The return to play prompted student-athletes to reflect on what they have gained by being back on the field together. A few shared their thoughts with the Gazette.

Idan Tretout ’23

Men’s Basketball
Mather House
Brooklyn, New York

Coach [Tommy] Amaker has always preached to us as a team that there are three things that you don’t get back: words, time, and opportunity. The pandemic helped us put that into perspective. Understanding that the time together as a team, with the fans, and competing are all aspects that we can never take for granted. Valuing every moment, no matter how minor or significant, is something we take great pride in.

Idan Tretout is pictured.

Sharelle Samuel ’22

Women’s Track & Field
Adams House
Ottawa, Canada

There is an immense level of bonding and general caring for one another, especially when we are able to travel as a team and go through very unique, distinct experiences together. I am excited to be able to compete at a high level once again, and as someone who enjoys traveling, I cannot wait to embark on these journeys with some of my closest friends at Harvard. As many say, the people really do make the experience here. As a senior, I am extremely grateful to be able to spend my final year in some sense of “normalcy” before graduating.

Sharelle Samuel is pictured.

Andrew Perry ’25

Men’s Lacrosse
Apley Court
Franklin, Massachusetts

The thing I value most about competing on campus is the level of excitement everyone has in being together. The COVID year showed all of us that nothing is guaranteed. So being with everyone in person and enjoying each other’s presence while working hard at accomplishing our goals, on and off the field, is something that I have cherished.

Andrew Perry is pictured.

Morgane Herculano ’22

Women’s Swimming & Diving
Mather House
Geneva, Switzerland

Diving is a fine combination of mental toughness, gracefulness, strength, and intense emotions. It is during practice that we need each other the most, and we have been working very hard. After being apart for so long, we strive to build a hard-working and supportive environment — not only for ourselves but for each other. Every swimmer and diver came back to campus with different experiences, and I see this time as a great opportunity to bring these perspectives together to grow and get better as a team.

Morgane Herculano is pictured.

Aaron Shirley ’23

Men’s Track & Field
Quincy House
Chesapeake, Virginia

In an “individual-team sport” like collegiate track and field, teammate support and energy is everything. Returning to on-campus training with the team has made me realize how much I value the energy and support that everyone brings to the track every day. Hearing your teammates cheer you on during reps, telling you that your block start to the first hurdle looks great, and sharing looks of terror when we’re told our workout for the day, are all parts of the sport that I cherish — especially after training on my own last year.

Aaron Shirley is pictured.

Elle Freedman ’25

Field Hockey
Canaday Hall
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I did not fully understand the importance of the hard work my upperclassmen and coaches put in during the intermission that COVID implemented on Ivy League athletics until I stepped onto the pitch for the first time. These seniors put their lives, future careers, and graduation plans on hold for over a year to ensure they would get another opportunity to wear a Harvard uniform again. That dedication and commitment is what inspires me every day to work harder and play for the 24 other women standing beside me. Seeing the emotion on my teammates’ faces when the final shot went in, beating Princeton, and securing the Ivy League championship, showed me that field hockey is so much more than a game — it’s about family.

Elle Freedman is pictured.

Marianne Mihas ’25

Women’s Cross Country
Grays Hall
Chicago, Illinois

The thing I appreciate most about being back in person as an athlete here at Harvard is the athletic community. The cross-country and track teams — and the broader athletic community here as a whole — is a special group of people. Being surrounded by such a talented and driven group of athletes is really inspiring and makes me so excited to be a part of athletics here at Harvard for the next four years.

Marianne Mihas is pictured.

Edwin Dominguez ’25

Men’s Soccer
Canaday Hall
Riverside, California

Being able to compete with my team on campus is surreal. I was very nervous coming in, but the entire team was extremely welcoming and friendly. I felt a part of the team immediately. Having a tight-knit community on campus is the best part of competing with them this year. Whether roaming the campus, hanging out in the locker room, or hitting the field, the sense of brotherhood is real with a competitive edge to it. We love to compete, but we also care about looking out for one another.

Edwin Dominguez is pictured.

Demi Snyder ’23

Women’s Tennis
Lowell House
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

After being apart for so long and only getting to communicate with my teammates through a screen, this year is special for me. I really value being able to see my teammates on a daily basis, train alongside their energetic personalities, and spend moments every day with them that I know I will remember years and years from now. After missing competition for so long, I think most of us athletes were craving it. Being able to compete again, not just for myself but representing the Crimson family, is exhilarating!

Demi Snyder is pictured.

Peter Levin ’25

Pennypacker Hall
Cleveland, Ohio

What I value most about being able to compete this year goes beyond just the games. Being with all of my teammates every day, working hard, and getting better is one of the best things about all of us being on campus.

Peter Levin is pictured.