Redefining achievement

Harry Cavell speaks about importance of relationships, faith in his basketball career

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Harry Cavell heading up the court at a previous SPU men’s basketball game. (Courtesy of Harry Cavell)

The dedication needed to be a student-athlete at the collegiate level is a heavy responsibility that all athletes must carefully weigh before accepting the scholarships offered to them, but the difficult decision of committing to a team usually happens while still in high school. For current graduate-student Harry Cavell, this decision was made at a completely different time than most others on his team. 

Cavell had to decide while already attending Seattle Pacific University as a freshman. His decision was between two choices: whether to walk away or to walk on. 

Ultimately, Cavell made the grand decision to join the men’s basketball team, but only after some much-needed motivation from the current head coach, Grant Leep. Due to Leep’s guidance as a coach, Cavell has become the eighth-highest scorer in SPU men’s basketball history with 1,338 points. 

“It’s a really cool achievement for me. I just feel very grateful to be where I’m at today. There was a time when I didn’t know if I would even play college basketball, but Coach Leep believed in me and continually put me in positions to be successful,” Cavell said. 

During Cavell’s first season on the basketball team in the winter of 2016, he was categorized as a “redshirt freshman” because he had been a walk-on athlete who had not been committed to the team in high school. This meant that he did not play and had to sit out his first year, but at least he was on the team. 

The following year, Cavell became an official member of the team and earned himself an athletic scholarship that would allow him to achieve his six-year-long collegiate career that will come to an end after the 2022 winter season. 

Despite the tough training schedules and struggle of juggling schoolwork between games and practices, Cavell has earned two degrees during his time at SPU. Not only did Cavell earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, but he also has been able to gain his Masters of Science in Data Analytics for Business.

He attests that none of his achievements in academics or athletics would have happened without his commitment and dedication to success.

My biggest piece of advice would be to work hard–in school, basketball, relationships, jobs, and anything else that matters to you. None of that would have been possible without a lot of hard work,” Cavell said. 

While Cavell acknowledges his success on and off the court, his self-value does not depend on his achievements, but rather on maintaining a stable relationship with his faith. 

“I actually actively try not to define myself by what I do on the court. I have found that when I find my identity in basketball, it adds unneeded pressure and takes away from the joy that I have when I play,” Cavell said. “With that being said, I try to define myself through my relationship with God and people. As a Christian, I believe that God has a huge, irrational love for me that allows me to then love other people well.” 

He also values his teammates and the success of the team over his self-driven wants on the team. He puts in the hard work not only for himself but for those around him. 

“My teammates inspire me. Ultimately, I want to be the best that I can be so that I can help my teammates experience success. And I know that they want to do the same for me,” Cavell said. “The scoring and other statistical achievements are kind of a byproduct of just playing to win. If I didn’t score another point for the rest of my career, but we won every game, I’d be more than happy.”

Cavell is currently playing in his final season of men’s basketball at SPU and does not know exactly what he will do after he is done. The future is still unclear. However, he does know that he wants to stay involved in sports. Whether that be as a professional athlete or as a data analyst for one of the professional teams, he is open to all opportunities that may present themselves. 

If he is unable to land either of those jobs, he can see himself passing his knowledge of the sport onto other athletes as a youth or high school basketball coach. His future has direction, but the true path is still uncertain. 

One thing Cavell does know is that he wants to enjoy his last season with his teammates and do the best he can to end on a high note, possibly with a Great Northwest Conference Championship. Even if that doesn’t happen, Cavell knows that he will put in all the effort he can to push himself and the team that he deeply values. 

“I’ve met some of my best friends through basketball and school. You’re doing yourself a major disservice if you view basketball or the people you meet through it transactionally,” Cavell said. “Get to know your teammates, coaches, and even opponents and enjoy being in the community with these people. This year hasn’t been perfect so far, but I have learned a lot and been challenged in new ways.”