Editor's note: Each year, a Nueva alum is asked to speak at the end-of-year athletics celebration and reflect on their time as a Nueva student-athlete and what they learned through involvement in our program. This year, we were honored to welcome back Audrey Chin '19, freshman at Harvard University and a member of the Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving Team. Audrey shared the reflections below, and then introduced our keynote speaker for the event, Schuyler Bailar. To read more about this year's event, click here.
Good evening. I am honored to be here today celebrating Nueva’s incredible student athletes. A huge congratulations to all of you, and to those whose seasons were unfortunately cut short, I hope to see you back repping the Mavericks soon!
For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting, my name is Audrey Chin and I am a Nueva alumna from the class of 2019 and a rising sophomore in college. I am a member of the Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving Team, otherwise known as HWSD. Chris has asked me to share a bit about my transition from Nueva into college and my first season as an intercollegiate athlete.
Rewinding to when I first set foot on campus last August, I did not know whether I wanted to pursue college athletics. Diving had been a huge part of my life for eight years and I still enjoyed the sport, but in all honesty I had doubts about whether the rigor of a Division I training schedule was for me and whether I would be missing out on a myriad of other opportunities by continuing to pursue athletics.
But if my years of design thinking have taught me anything, it’s that good decisions are not made blindly. You have to get your hands dirty, to deep dive and prototype, to be willing to fail, and to be open to new or surprising results. So, I jumped right in, promising myself I would give 100% during the month-long tryout process and reserve judgement until October 1, when I would either officially walk on to the team or walk away from diving.
You all can probably guess what happened next. By the time October 1 rolled around, I knew that HWSD was for me.
Now, intercollegiate athletics is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. You train 15–20 hours per week. Your body needs more fuel and more sleep than ever, and for the first few weeks of lifting, you are pretty much perpetually sore. But if I could roll back the clock to October 1, would I make the same decision again? In a heartbeat. Here are a few of the reasons why.
I am lucky to be a part of a team that lives, trains, and competes by values I stand by, values formatively shaped by my time at Nueva.
Being a college athlete is empowering. It’s a chance to redefine your own relationship with sport and to take ownership over your athletic goals. It was my first time being part of an all-female team, training and competing with women who were unapologetically strong. The training wheels were off and I fell in love with diving all over again.
While collegiate athletics is rigorous and demanding, Nueva prepares you well to strike a balance between athletics, academics, and social life. It’s true that it’s impossible to do everything, but it is possible to do the things that are important to you across these three domains and to do them well. Nueva gives you so much freedom, and that freedom teaches you to prioritize, to advocate for yourself with coaches and teachers, to be flexible in the face of challenges—these are skills that prove invaluable as a college athlete.
One of the greatest gifts you receive as a student athlete is the gift of community. When I joined HWSD, I joined a family. Our bonds are ironclad, forged through early, bleary-eyed scrambles across the Charles River to morning lift, team meals after hard practices laughing at each other’s inventive culinary concoctions, and long bus rides belting out team classics to and from travel meets. Through the ups and downs of freshman year, my team really was my rock.
One of the main reasons I feel so empowered and so at home as a member of HWSD is because our team values remind me of Nueva. Our team is built on four shared agreements:
- Have fun! — Nueva has always encouraged us to pursue the things that bring us joy.
- Great teams lead from within. — This reminds me of how students drive the learning at Nueva.
- Everyone has a role to play. — Nueva teaches the value of diverse skillsets and perspectives.
- Team comes first. — The compassion, generosity, and selflessness of Nueva teachers have shown me what it means to put others before yourself in service of a communal goal.
I am lucky to be a part of a team that lives, trains, and competes by values I stand by, values formatively shaped by my time at Nueva. For any of you considering collegiate athletics, I encourage you to look deeply into team culture. Keep an open mind; an unbelievable community awaits you.
Now I would like to tell you a little bit about our speaker for the evening, Schuyler Bailar. Schuyler has left a lasting legacy on the Harvard swimming and diving programs and continues to be an inspiration to many young athletes. Immensely devoted to his sport and to his team, Schuyler is a person of great courage and I am honored to be introducing him today.