Why do I row? Or more specifically, why do I *keep* rowing? This job is too physically and emotionally demanding to be undertaken half-heartedly… there must be some driving force, some motivating factor, that keeps us training through blisters, broken ribs, heat waves, and hurricanes.
Our secret? PASSION, an underlying joy that fuels every workout, that spurs us onward whenever that distant Olympic torch seems especially far away or unattainable. This weekend, on my first visit to Yale since graduation, I was reminded of how I discovered this passion.
Last Friday, Taylor Ritzel and I traveled up to New Haven to talk to the current Yale rowers and to cheer them on during their first regatta of the season. As we watched the afternoon practice from the launch, I was reminded, again and again, of Yale’s integral role in nurturing my love of this sport.
There were the physical reminders– the scenic Housatonic River, awash with fall colors; the armada of Yale crews, each in a top-notch racing shell, and manned with bright, ambitious, and interesting student-athletes; the beautiful Gilder boathouse, staffed by skilled and adept coaches; the expansive and delicious selections at the athletes’ table— Yale Crew definitely provided us with every possible resource to achieve rowing success.
As an Eli rower, I learned the addictive thrill of winning, and the mental toughness and daily grind required to earn those victories. I learned how to lead by example, how to earn respect from my boatmates, and how to unify our different personalities and strengths into one cohesive unit.
The reminders continued as we ventured back to the Yale campus: reuniting with my college roommates (now grad students at Yale’s Architecture, Forestry, and Law schools!), visiting my beloved Timothy Dwight residential college, rediscovering my favorite running routes… this weekend reminded me of not just why I loved Yale Rowing, but also why I loved *Yale*. The passion that fuels my rowing today exists because of the joy I found as a student-athlete.
My four years at Yale went by much too quickly, but a team’s bond doesn’t end at graduation: dozens of Yale Crew alum, male and female, young and old, all returned to the river to participate in this weekend’s regatta (Note: no alumni races for Taylor and I, but save us a spot in next year’s alumni boat!). Our reunion exemplifies the storied legacy and tradition of Yale Crew, and of the shared experiences of over forty years of Eli women, sweating and working and training for the chance to row for God, for Country, and for Yale.
So, thank you, Yale Crew. Thank you for teaching me the lessons I need to succeed at the Olympic level, and thank you for bestowing me with the passion that drives me forward. It was an honor and a privilege to race in the Yale uniform, and I hope that the current Bulldog rowers realize how truly lucky they are.