Humans of Harker: On guard

Arushi Madan (12) explores water polo and various styles of music

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Vasudha Subramanian

“I enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something concrete. As a goalie, you either let in a goal or you don't. Just the feeling of blocking the ball is really fulfilling,” Arushi Madan (12) said.

After tucking her brown hair under her dark green swimming cap, Arushi Madan (12) ties her matching green water polo cap on top. She pulls out her earbuds from her backpack and plugs them into her ears while she stretches and prepares herself for the Harker water polo team’s home game against Wilcox. A wide grin spreads across her face as tune to her favorite pre-game song, “Antidote” by Travis Scott, takes over.

Even before Arushi joined Harker in her sophomore year, she competitively played water polo. Her journey with water sports began when she discovered a liking for competitive swimming, but she eventually chose water polo because she wanted to experience its rigor. Her commitment to the sport is evident, and she enjoys playing it throughout the year.

“When I was ten, I started at one [water polo] club, and then I continued until I was twelve. I stopped for a little bit and then went to another club, and I was with that club until this year,” Arushi said. “At Harker, I had club season going on and then varsity season, and I’m basically playing year-round. So high school season is in the fall, and then club would start in the winter.”

Additionally, Arushi’s position as a goalie brings her a sense of achievement and completion. 

“I enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something concrete. As a goalie, you either let in a goal or you don’t. Just the feeling of blocking the ball is really fulfilling,” Arushi said.

Upper school English teacher Ohad Paran taught Arushi in her sophomore and senior years. He commends Arushi for her academic and athletic determination.

“She is somebody who makes friends easily, and who is very respectful towards her teachers. She appreciates the concept of a challenge and why it is valuable to be challenged, athletically and academically,” he said. “She was, is, and continues to be very successful here. If you succeed at Harker, in every way imaginable: athletically, academically, socially the way that she has, then you are set up pretty well to succeed.”

Through her years of water polo at Harker, Arushi believes that her team has created a bond. 

“I feel like this year especially, as a senior, I get to lead my team … they have kind of become my family,” said Arushi. “I have come to know them super well – just getting to know each person … because I have lived through that experience.”

Aside from the friends she has formed on her team, Maya Shukla (12), one of her friends she met in English class, explains how she has appreciated having Arushi as a companion whom she can be completely open with.

“She is really easy to talk to so we always have really good conversations, whether they be humorous or something deep,” Maya said.

Catherine Zhao (12), another one of Arushi’s close friends, noted how Arushi has grown individually and engaged herself in more of her hobbies.

“I think it is really interesting to see how she has grown as an individual because I have always known her as a student-athlete, but as the years have passed, she has also expressed her interest in different fields,” Catherine said.

Alongside water polo, Arushi developed an affinity for music. When she began learning how to play different instruments, she found that she had a natural gift for it.

“I could read music before I could actually read words. I got into music when I saw my dad’s friend play [the guitar], and instantly, I really wanted to pick it up … That kept on drawing me towards music, and eventually, I picked up the violin,” she said. 

Aside from the violin, Arushi has also developed a passion for playing the piano.

“I started trying the piano out as well. Since I could read music from before, it was not very hard for me to pick up playing the piano or playing simple exercises,” she said. “The piano is also an accompaniment to a lot of the violin pieces I’d played, so that drew me to learn the harmony for a lot of my pieces.”

With a significant commitment to water polo always on her mind, Arushi finds music, whether it be listening or composing, to be her source of relaxation. 

“I listen to music every day, sometimes if I have to pass some boring work that I have to do. I play music to just really relax after a long day, calm myself down, compose something new. I like composing new pieces from the musical knowledge [that] I already have, [so] maybe I’ll play music instead of listening to it,” she said.