Athletics is something that is heavily incorporated into American society. From a very young age, children are encouraged to participate in multiple sports until they find something they are passionate about. I played various sports in middle school and high school, but the one sport that has dominated my life for the last seven and a half years would be rowing. I started rowing my freshman year of high school, and it was like nothing I had ever done before. We would roll rowing machines, also know an ergometers, from a storage closet in the gym to either a random hallway or the cafeteria where we would practice right after school every day. From rowing, I learned the importance of discipline and responsibility. Everything you do you owe not only to yourself but to your teammates. You owe it to them to work as hard as you can and be the best you can be. Rowing is the ultimate team sport. It is the only sport where you can win sitting on your but going backwards. To win in rowing, you and your teammates must be perfectly synchronized. If someone is off time it can throw off the entire rhythm of the boat.
During my junior year of high school, the other juniors and I began looking into the whole idea of being recruited by NCAA Division I schools. It is quite the process to be recruited, and takes over a year. We all went on official visits to schools across the country. The entire experience is very exciting. I visited various schools across the east coast and was even invited to go to California, but after my official visit to Rutgers, I loved it here and signed the letter of intent, making it it official that I was coming to Rutgers. At a school as large as Rutgers, it is important to be a part of a smaller community in the midst of such a large community. Rutgers is huge, and I feel there is something for everyone, whether it is a club or sport. Rowing was my niche in the chaos of Rutgers. Rowing in itself is it’s own community. When you are a little freshman just trying to learn the ropes of how to navigate Rutgers, it was great knowing my teammates had my back to help if I needed it.
Rowing in college was much more serious than in high school. All of the workouts we did tripled in intensity and time. Workouts that we did in high school became the warm ups for the ones we did in college. Every morning I would get up at 5:45am, yes am, before the sun had risen, and we would drive to the boathouse to row on the Raritan river. Then we would have another practice in the afternoon, whether it was lift or an extra run. Learning how to balance classes, work and practice at the same time, as well as learning everything about Rutgers was quite a challenge. To this day, four years later, it is still difficult balancing work and practice. Our team conference is currently in transition from the Big East to the Big Ten. While everyone likes to talk about how this will affect football etc, this also has drastic affects for the other sports as well. It’s really exciting to watch as the team changes and moves into another conference.
It’s always hard listening to students complain about 8am classes, or worse 12:00 classes. By 12:00, I’ve already worked out, eaten, showered, gone to class and am about to get ready for my second workout. Every minute is precious when you are a student athlete. We don’t have any time to waste. And even if you’re not at practice, you have to be prepared for practice. You have to make sure you get enough sleep at night and eat properly throughout the day. Students pull all nighters like it’s their job, but I can’t do that because then I would perform badly at practice. Other students skip classes for their own personal various reasons that I’m sure are very important, but practice is mandatory, classes are mandatory, for us everything is mandatory and if you get caught skipping class or if you’re late to practice, then there are repercussions. Not going is never an option. We row in the most adverse conditions sometimes. It’s funny watching new people and it will be raining one day and they’ll be like “We’re not going out in that are we?!” Truth is, rain is not that bad. I’ve rowed in hail, 20 mph winds, and thunderstorms. I’ve rowed in races where the wind and rain were so powerful that the water comes over the sides of the boat and there’s nothing you can do about it, just keep rowing. Rowing teaches an incredible amount of discipline and responsibility. It teaches trust and it builds camaraderie . You have to learn to work together or you’ll never win, and winning is the most incredible feeling. When you know you left it all on the line and there’s nothing left in you, there’s nothing else like that feeling. And when you have that medal around your neck and know that you earned it through all of your hard work, it just feels so accomplishing and incredible.