For most collegiate rowers who “hang up their oars” after graduation comes freedom. With re-tirement, you can catch up on your sleep, have fun with your friends whenever you want, and never have to worry about that upcoming erg test. While most revel in this new found freedom, nostalgia begins to set in. Although there are many aspects of collegiate rowing that aren't the most glamorous, there are those small windows in time that make it all worth it. From traveling across the country, to the early wake-up calls, check out the things I’ll miss most about college rowing.
1. My Teammates
Teammates are the bread and butter of college rowing. You’re with them everyday, 24/7 and at most meals. Even though we needed our space from time to time, teammates are the ones who make practice fun and enjoyable. As the backbone of the rowing team, they’re what you’ll miss most once you graduate from college.
2. The Athlete Community
Joining an athletic team means you’re automatically accepted into the athletic community. All athletes are like-minded—they’re competitive and passionate about their sport. Being sur-rounded by not only the rowing team, but all other sporting teams, makes you appreciate the skills behind other sports. At most schools, the athletic community is very strong and are there for whatever you need.
3. Early wake-ups
It may sound crazy, but the 5am wake-ups calls will be missed. In the moment, shutting off the alarm and going back to sleep was my biggest desire, but knowing you’ve accomplished more than the average student before 8am, supercharged my day. Sometimes a 2pm nap was in or-der, but feeling accomplished so early in the day is an awesome feeling.
4. My Coaches
Everyone has a different experience with coaches—some are hands-off, and some really like to connect with their team. Coaches teach you about communication, handwork, and dedication throughout your four years of college—key traits that are transferrable to post-grad life. Not only do coaches teach you how to perfect the rowing stroke, but they also teach you a lot about your-self.
Although rowers don’t travel as much as baseball players or basketball players, we always looked forward to changing up the waters and performing our best on competition day. Not only was traveling fun as a team, but it gave you a break from your everyday life at school. Having the opportunity to visit other prestigious universities and their athletic facilities was an amazing experience.
What will you miss about collegiate rowing? Checkout EngineRm’s new “Test Your Grit” series where retired collegiate rowers come together and re-ignite their passion for the rowing ma-chine!
To recognize International Literacy Day on September 8th, we have created a list of our favorite books relevant to rowing. Many of them are oldies, but definitely goodies.
EngineRm Recommended Reading List
Several members have suggested an EngineRm reading co-op so members can share their books. We have copies of most of a few of these books kicking around the club and we will set up a book shelf. If you pick up any of the books below, thanks in advance for passing them a long when you are finished.
1) Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
New York Times Best Seller that kept the rowing world abuzz for several years. A historical account of the University of Washington's 1936 crew that captured the hearts of the American sporting world and took on Hitler's German sports machine. This is a well-written book, rich in historical details, and builds beautifully to its climactic end.
2) Assault on Lake Casitas by Brad Alan Lewis
This is a must-read for all rowers. Written in diary format, this is gripping, highly entertaining account of the author's quest to make the 1984 Olympic Team and race on what is basically his hometown course.
3) Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae that is sure to inspire commitment to your teammates and goals. Our Naval Academy rowing friends tipped us off on this book, as it is required reading for cadets.
4) Flow in Sports by Susan Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
This is one of the great sports psychology books of all time. It explains that feeling and moment we've all had when everything is going right and you feel like you can do no wrong. Reading this book will help you stay relaxed and perform at maximum efficiency in all aspects of your life.
5) Running Within by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott
Another must read sports psychology book for all athletes who push the envelope. Reading this book will help you keep the faith in those stressful moments when self-doubt abounds.
6) Essential Sculling by Daniel J. Boyer
This book gives a good overview of what it takes to become a good rower. Well organized and written, this book is essential reading for all aspiring rowers.
7) Seabiscuit by Laura Hildebrand
Hands down, one of the most inspirational books you will ever read. This is an amazing account of underdogs beating the odds in one of the most incredible sports stories in history.
8) The Sculler at Ease by Frank Cunningham and Leslie Strom
Frank Cunningham was classic, life-long coach in the Seattle area, who knew many of the Boys in the Boat rowers and had a hand in coaching some of the greatest success stories in rowing, including Brad Lewis and Paul Enquist in 1984. This covers all the basics in learning to row and mastering the sport on the highest level.
9) Once a Runner by John L. Park
This is a novel based on the author's experience as a competitive collegiate runner. It captures the mindset of any competitive endurance athlete.
Meet Maddie O'Brien, Captain of the 2015-16 Columbia Women's Rowing Team.
When did you hear about crew? Did you row in high school?
A family friend said I should look into rowing. I didn't start rowing until the end of my junior year, after being recruited for volleyball didn't work out.
When did you start thinking about being recruited to row in college?
Immediately. The whole purpose of me starting to row was so I could play a D1 sport.
How did you feel about the recruitment process?
It was much easier than volleyball. However, it was stressful sometimes being forced to make decisions that could affect the rest of my life.
When did you know for sure you were coming to Columbia?
At the end of my visit I knew that I needed to spend four years at this amazing place. I officially was accepted in December and received a likely letter in November.
What has your experience been like as a recruited athlete at Columbia? Incredible. I have grown so much as an individual. My perception of hard work has been completely altered.
How have you interacted with recruits since you’ve been at Columbia?
My best friends are recruited athletes. I have so much respect for them. However, I have even more respect for walk on athletes who got in on their own!
What advice would you have for high schoolers who are interested in rowing/being recruited at the Collegiate level?
Never give up. If you want something don't stop until you get it. If you let one coach telling you 'no' get you down, then you won't ever make it. Rowing is a numbers game and if you don't have the numbers change that! Rowing is incredible because as much as it is a team sport on the water, on the erg everything is in your control. Whoever can handle the most pain wins. So win.