The obstacles that are most difficult to overcome are often the ones that help us to grow the most.
No one knows this better than Pat Magnarelli.
The senior forward on the Harvard basketball team has suffered multiple injuries throughout his career with the Crimson and has been repeatedly forced to sit on the sidelines.
But he has become stronger for it.
“Would I have liked to be injured less? Yes,” he says. “But in the long run, it teaches me some good life lessons. It teaches perseverance and being able to overcome adversity.”
The adversity started early for Magnarelli, who was first injured in the preseason of his freshman year when he received a stress fracture in his vertebrae, limiting him to a back brace for most of the remaining season.
“Everyone comes in to college thinking they are on top of the world, and that it is going to be the same thing as high school,” he says, “but right off the bat freshman year, I got the back injury, and it taught me that college was going to be a lot different. It was going to be a lot harder.”
Yet Magnarelli had no idea of what further challenges were to come.
At the outset of his sophomore season, it was as if Magnarelli had never been off the court.
At his peak, he was averaging 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, ranking second and first on the squad, respectively.
But his promising season was cut short when he dislocated his kneecap at Dartmouth in the second Ivy League game of the year, an injury that would come to haunt him again.
After spending the rest of his sophomore season in street clothes, he dislocated the same knee two days before Harvard’s opening game against New Hampshire his junior year.
The injury required season-ending surgery that January and prevented him from stepping out on the court for the entire season.
“The two knee injuries really hurt me a lot, just because…I was finally playing again after missing freshman year, and it was nice to be back on the court,” he recalls. “Then I went down with the same injury twice in back-to-back years, so that was definitely disheartening for me.”
But Magnarelli didn’t give up hope. He always had his team to support him and to encourage him in his efforts to get back on the floor.