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May 12, 2018

Harvard Softball Player: The Day in the Life of Alissa Hiener, an Ivy-league Athlete

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Photo courtesy of Alissa Hiener of Harvard Softball
Photo courtesy of Alissa Hiener of Harvard Softball

My name is Alissa Hiener, and I play softball at Harvard University. As a Harvard student-athlete, I have a super busy but fun and rewarding schedule. This schedule changes depending on whether we are in-season or out-of-season, and on the day of the week. Let’s take a look at what the typical day as a Harvard student-athlete looks like!

On weekdays, I wake up around 8:30 so that I can grab breakfast before my first class of the day at 10 AM. The earliest classes at Harvard start at 9 AM (which is still too early for me). For breakfast, I take a short walk to Annenberg Hall, where all students go to get breakfast, which includes cooked-to-order eggs, bread, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, all types of drinks, and more. This dining hall helps build community and create friendships, and I can always find someone that I know there to sit with.

After sufficiently stuffing myself with food, I walk to my 10 AM class, which for me, this year, was Japanese. On average, I have 2-3 classes per day, which usually run from around 10 AM to 1 PM. This semester, I am taking Japanese, Writing in Psychology, Social Psychology, and Intro to Economics. Some interesting classes I have taken in the past include Evolution of Morality, Natural Disasters, American Foreign Policy, and Greek Mythology. Most classes at Harvard meet on various days between Monday and Thursday (most are Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday).

After class or between classes, I will return to my house dining hall for lunch. Each upperclassman (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) is assigned to one of 12 upperclassman houses at the end of their freshman year. Freshman live in the yard, which is a group of 18 houses exclusively for the freshman to live in. I was assigned to Leverett House, which I have fallen in love with (house spirit!). As for the dining hall, lunch entrees change daily, but there is always a salad bar, sandwich bar, and the grill (where you can order a burger, eggs, fries, and more).

After lunch, there’s usually an hour or two before practice starts. During this time, I will try to either study inside my room, or if it’s a warm day (early fall or late spring), I’ll find a good spot to study outdoors. Then, I take my daily walk across the river to the softball locker room and fields. It’s usually a 10-15 minute walk across the Charles River from the dorms to the athletic facilities. Once we get to our locker room, we get some hype-up music going and change, then go out for practice usually around 3. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays we have afternoon practice at 3, while on Mondays we have morning practice (around 6:30). After afternoon practices, we have lift and conditioning 5:30-6: 30 PM.

After lift and conditioning, we shower in the locker room and walk together in groups back across the river. Back on the academic side of the river, we usually eat dinner together either as a whole team or in groups. Dinner is similar to lunch in how it offers a salad bar, sandwich bar, and grill, but the entrees are all different from lunch and previous few days’ dinners. After dinner, we each return to our rooms to study and finish the homework due the next day. Group study is also popular, and there are many study spaces at Harvard with different atmospheres so that you can find the perfect study space for you.

As for weekends, they are very different in the fall versus the spring! On most fall weekend days, we don’t have practice or anything softball related. We will occasionally host clinics, which are midday (10AM-4PM). Therefore, in the fall, I’ll do fun things with my friends like brunch, going out into Boston for shopping, karaoke, dinner, etc., and there’s plenty of time to get ahead in homework for the week (although procrastinating is my favorite thing to do).

In the spring, softball is in season, so we have games at 12:30 and three on Saturday, and a single game at 12:30 on Sundays. We play three games against every Ivy league team (Yale, Dartmouth, etc.) each weekend, for seven weekends. Everyone on the team has their pregame rituals, but they change depending on whether we are playing at home or away. No matter whether we are home or away, we always write each other “psych notes.” These psych notes are cute notes that we write for a teammate to hype them up before the game. Every weekend, everyone is randomly assigned to a teammate, who they give the psych note to on the morning of game day.

For home games, I like to wake up around 9 AM and get a filling breakfast from everyone’s favorite on-campus Mexican food restaurant, El Jefes. After grabbing my delicious breakfast, I walk down to the locker room to put on some music that gets me in the confident, hype mood to win some games. In the locker room, we exchange psych notes and then walk out to the field for warm-ups at 10:45. On Saturdays we have two games, so we have “pack-outs” which are bagged lunches provided by the school.

For away games, we leave on either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning (depending on how far the field is). For these bus trips, we usually get each other “healthy” snacks in addition to the psych notes. We will stay in the area overnight, and hotel rooms are shared between either 2 or 3 players. Every player gets their bed, as well as continental breakfast (and the occasional Starbucks run if we’re up early enough!). We return to home sweet home (Boston) on Sunday night, which I use to relax and finish work before the week restarts on Monday morning!

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE