The urge to compete, the will to persevere, the need to belong, the desire to be loved—one or more of these forces drive most of the athletes on this planet to continuously do what they do.
These passionate sentiments are what constitute the “glory days,” what many sportsmen consciously consider to be the greatest periods of their lives.
Though virtually all athletes strive for strength, victory, and recognition, many fall short of these achievements, left to rationalize their athletic experiences optimistically and apply lessons learned to future situations and responsibilities.
From a vast pool of adolescent athletes emerge high school athletes, who demonstrate energy, interest, and some athletic ability.
The best of the jocks with the letterman jackets move on to college or higher, equipped with uncommon talent, physical gifts, unmatched work ethic, or some combination thereof.
And so continues the athletic selection process, ending with professional leagues and the Olympics.
Athletes across this entire spectrum have one thing in common: the use and maintenance of their bodies.
The same fundamental tool that allows them to realize their highest goals often becomes their greatest obstacle.
Senior Desmond Mitchell of the men’s soccer team is one of Harvard’s many athletes who embodies this path. However, his reluctance to quit and stubborn training mentality has allowed him to enjoy his “glory days” more fully than many injury-plagued athletes ever get to.
Regarded as one of the fastest high schoolers in Georgia in 2006, Mitchell exceled at track and soccer at Campbell High School in Smyrna before being recruited heavily to many Division I Schools. Contemplating his future maturely, he chose to head north.
“I was actually really hesitant in choosing Harvard,” Mitchell said. “[Soccer] is what I wanted to do. I chose Harvard because I thought I would have the best academic exprerience while still having the possibility of pursuing soccer.”
Eight games into his freshman season, during which the Crimson earned an Ivy League Title, Mitchell’s groin checked out on him and never left a note.
He suffered tears in both his groin and lower abdomen, and endured bilateral abductor release surgery and pelvic floor repair surgery.
Still, Mitchell humbly understates his performance in past years.
“My level of play has gone down because of the wear and tear of the injury,” he said.