Every week it’s the same routine. Monday through Friday I have school, Tuesday to Saturday I have practice. Some days I’m happy to go to practice and it’s all I wait for throughout the school day. Other times I wish school wouldn’t end so that I would not have practice. It’s part of being an athlete and part of making a commitment. The real challenge with being apart of a sport such as rowing is that the weather decides what you will do that day. We cannot finish winter practice at any time we feel like.
“I say next week. It’s supposed to be warm.” says Kat, my neighbor.
“Yeah let’s hope. Although they said we’d be back on the water this week.” Darya, my sister replies.
“I just don’t see it happening.” I say as we walk down our block. It is March and the trees are leafless and the air is cold. Our hands are stuffed into our pockets for warmth (even though our gloves are on) and our jackets are lined with fur. We have been in winter training since December. It should have ended in February. But the weather decided it did not like us yet again. This was just another repeat of last year. The river is frozen and there is no way for us to go back to the only reason we enjoy this sport. Only two days ago we had ran down by the river and seen the white shell that trapped the brown murky water of the schuylkill river. Boy did we miss that brown murky water. We were losing hope. It would be winter forever.
For rowers winter is the time where the ones not as committed are weeded out. It is the time when we all second guess why we have even joined such a sport. The school day consists of us worrying about what torture awaits us at 4:15 on Girard Avenue. The bus ride there is filled with voices that complain about the workout and threaten to quit. These threats are something rowers are used to. We hear them everyday and we say it practically every week.
It’s a sport based on mentality. Without it it is very difficult to stay motivated and push yourself further. Yes, there is a motivation based off teammates by not wanting to let them down. But there is also a point in which you must push yourself. You have to keep going for you. That is what is so unique about this sport. You must find the balance between pulling for the people in your boat and pulling for yourself. Winter is the worst season because you are alone. Pushing for you and only you. It’s so hard to stay motivated, so hard to keep going through the same motions.
The worst year in any high school sport is junior year. You’re stressing out over your school work and studying for the SAT’s. Sports is the last thing you want stressing you out. With rowing the only thing you do is stress. You wonder what boat you will be in that day- will it be the top boat or have you been pushed to the bottom boat- you wonder what seat you will be. You get home at 7 or later from practice, shower, eat, and do homework while half asleep. By the time you have finished there is no time to study.
As I sit here at my desk writing this paper I looked up at the painting on the wall. I flash back to mercer lake. It was a crisp morning, the sun was shining as I walked towards the pale blue trailer. I could see the other girls sitting there, getting ready for the race. The morning raced by and soon it was our turn to get ready to go out on the water.
“Alright Ladies, it’s our turn to go. Let’s get hands on!” says Tatiana (our coxswain).
As we held the boat we looked at each other with excited yet nervous eyes. Smiles were big as we walked to the dock. We could barely wait. Our last practice had gone smoothly and we were confident. This was the biggest race of the season and we’d worked hard to even make it into this boat.
“I’m freaking out guys. Like I’m super nervous.” Calla says shakily (3 seat).
“We are gonna do great! No worries.” Emma replies (2 seat).
“Tatiana did you bring the water?” asks Kai (1 seat).
“I already have to pee again!” I say (4 seat).
As all rowers we rely on our coxswains so much. They hold a great deal of power over the boat. Once a coxswain loses hope the entire boat stops functioning correctly. These 4 girls have been everything these past few days. We keep pushing for each other when we are tired and desperately want to stop.
In the last few moments before we put the boat in the water and get ready to head up to the race we remember all the hard work that we have put in. All the times we pushed through. All the times we finished practice at 6:30. All the half done homework. It has all lead up to this moment.
Below the painting there is a quote “Coming Together Is a Beginning, Keeping Together Is Progress, Working Together is Success.” I often think about this quote when I am the one threatening to quit or when I just need a little more motivation. Without those girls I would not be who I am today.