Learning to Row

As a former prep school kid, I knew (and know) a lot of people who rowed in high school, and also in college. I always got along with the rowers because they’re all super nice and friendly, but also athlete who enjoy being around other athletes. My junior year of prep school, when I had to choose a spring sport, I picked lacrosse; not because I didn’t want to row, I just wanted to play lax more. I don’t regret that decision at all; I absolutely loved my time playing lacrosse, and the sport has given me so many opportunities with coaching, especially when hockey season ends. I’ve always had a blast on the field, and scoring a goal is so rewarding and satisfying, especially for a girl who is constantly trying to stop them from happening in her main sport. My senior year, a lot of my friends on the rowing team were asking me if I would do crew instead of lacrosse, but the answer was a hard no; I really liked the sport, and I knew that I could make a difference on which ever team I was on. As a senior trying out for varsity lacrosse, I completely understand the coaches decision to cut me because they’re trying to grow the talent of the team for future years. I wasn’t upset, because I got the chance to be a senior leader on the JV team. I’m usually one of the loudest players on the field, and as the most senior, I “quarterbacked” the offense and called the plays. Believe me, I was very happy being in charge of running the play and making sure it turned out well so that my teammates could score. I’m not one to actively try and go to the net, but much happier providing the passes to make my teammates succeed.

So that was my lacrosse career, and when I got to college, I knew I would stick with hockey and maybe try to fit in another sport if I could. I was able to fit in lacrosse again my senior year, and I am so happy I decided to be a two sport club athlete. The girls and friendships I made will definitely last me a while, and I can’t thank them enough for welcoming me for just one season.

I’m sure at this point, you’re reading this and thinking “what does this have to do with rowing?”

Well the answer to that is that I had an opportunity to walk-on and try out for the womens rowing team at Northeastern pretty much every year of college. The team always has walk-on tryouts, where you don’t even need to know how to row to try out. Part of me always wanted to, because I missed the rigor of playing a sport for your school, especially all of the weight room training that would go along with it. Why didn’t I ever try-out you ask? I’ll be honest, I couldn’t bring myself to wake up super early every single day. Yup, it sounds really silly, but I knew that I couldn’t commit to that unless it was for a sport I absolutely loved (aka hockey), so I decided not to.

Enter Lake Union Crew. It was the day before my first day of work here at Amazon in Seattle, and I was walking down the street and saw a flyer for “Learn to Row” classes at Lake Union Crew. I looked them up online, and liked what I saw: 12 classes for $130, and they would teach me everything I needed to know. Better yet, the boathouse also has a weight room that is open to all members. With no lacrosse until spring, and hockey extremely sporadic in the meantime, I decided “why not!” and signed up.

I have taken five classes thus far, and I’m happy to say that I’m not absolutely terrible at it. When my friends asked me if I would be trying out for the rowing team, it was always because I was a little bit taller, and they knew that because I played hockey, that I would have good leg strength (something you need a lot of to be a good rower). After getting the technique down, I’m very happy with how I’ve been doing. So far I have rowed in a quad (4 people, 8 oars), as well as an eight (8 people and 8 oars).

Sculling (being in the quad) was a lot of fun because having two oars added an extra challenge that I wasn’t used to. Sweeping (in the eight) was also a lot of fun, because that’s more the traditional rowing that you see most people do in college. One aspect that I’m really liking about it so far is how in tune you have to be to the people around you (specifically the person in front of you) in order to move the boat in the direction that you want it to go.

It’s funny because when I told my mom that I was going to start rowing, she told me that she thought I would be very good at it. Mike also told his dad that I was starting, and he said the same thing. I’m happy to say that things are going well so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how I progress over the next few sessions!

The good news is that as an adult, I can still compete and row competitively, so hopefully in a few months, I’ll be racing with the club at some of the local regattas. Stay tuned for updates.





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