As a sophomore, I ask myself every day why I'm still involved with rowing. Getting up at five in the morning, I drag myself out of bed, put on the warmest pair of sweatpants I own and walk grudgingly to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. Seeing my face in the mirror, I kind of stare at myself bewildered. "Why are you still doing this to yourself? It's been five years, you can let it go, dude." Surprisingly enough, I can't. After becoming a coxswain on my high school team, I wasn't able to let it go. In order to explain it to myself, here are the reasons why I've decided to continue coxing in college.
1. It's Habit
Sure, in high school I didn't have to get out of bed at five in the morning, but I did get into the habit of going to practice, getting out a cox-box, putting on layers and layers of clothes, having a fanny pack full of band-aids, etc. That kind of habitual movement doesn't go away after four years, it is continuous. Even if I wanted to stop, there's no way I could stop packing my fanny pack of essentials.
Because of the morning practices, I get to go to breakfast with my crew. There is honestly nothing greater than walking into the dining hall with some of my closest friends to steal all the food they have to offer. It's a group effort I don't want to miss out on.
The obvious one. I think that this one is a constant reminder of all the fun that rowing and coxing has. Traveling as a team to different venues, seeing other teams, getting all the regatta gear - it's pretty great. Nothing is more exciting than getting ready to race, and finally going down to the start lane, full of anxiety for the referee to finally yell "go!" or "full power, you're on the course!" It's a pretty adrenaline-filling moment, but it shows that every moment on the water during practice, everything we ate, every moment lifting, every moment before now, has helped us get to where we are, and now is the time to crush some other crews.
4. Academic Help
I can honestly say that my grades have improved since I've spent more time with my crew. Even though we're all academically different, we still study together and help each other when we can. It's a really awesome bond to have. I remember one time my fall semester freshman year, two of my friends just finished a chemistry exam and were really upset, and nothing was more helpful to them then having someone there to take them to get food and to talk to them about something other than chem. If you bond over sports and struggle through finals, nothing will break you.
I mean, saying you woke up at seven this morning is cool, but we woke up at five, and we've done more than you've done. Tell me again about how awesome it is waking up "early." Not only do I get to be active for longer in the day, I start my day off getting practice out of the way, so I just have classes. It gives me more time to study or do other activities like clubs, eating, organizing, doing laundry - the list goes on and on.
6. Active on Campus
Automatically, you're acclimated to being involved on campus. You don't need to do other things, but of course, a lot of the girls and guys are involved in Greek life, health organizations, dance troupes, etc. Seeing the team be active in other places is really awesome, especially when they're kicking butt on and off the water.
I've learned to be more communicative with my crew and my professors by staying involved in the sport. Not only am I being motivative to my boat, but I'm more confident in voicing my opinion to my professors and talking things through, like I would a race plan. It's helped me with interviews, getting points back and, overall, just making me a more open person.
8. My Team
I honestly would not trade what I have with my team for anything. Each one of them is so significant in their own way and so unique. Leaving them is like leaving a family, and they're the reason that I can wake up every morning, excited to go out on the water in the dark because we're all working towards one goal. That's how it was for me in high school too. Being a part of the crew team is the most selfless version of teamwork; you're only as strong as your weakest rower, and working together to get stronger is why I love this sport, why I can't leave it for the world.
9. It's My Life
I've tried to find reasons to get out of crew, I really have. I've come up with excuses, like being too busy or having midterms every week, yet I'm still waking up at five in the morning when my alarm goes off, and I'm still walking to the boathouse to start practice. There isn't a part of me that understands what it's like to not have crew in my life anymore. After five years, you learn that it's a part of you. You don't just participate in the sport, you live and breathe it - just like you would with any sport or organization you're heavily involved in. It's a lifestyle at this point - not having it would be like not having a limb all of a sudden. I wouldn't know what to do.
Of course, going into college to play a sport isn't for everyone. Not everyone has to stay active and not everyone has to do what they did in high school. For me, it was about finding my home immediately when I got to campus, and keeping that family that I grew close to almost automatically. My crew is my backbone, my light in a bad day of classes and much, much more. So, if you're ever worried about continuing a sport, these are just a few reminders of what you have going for you. Hopefully it reminds you of all the good it brings, instead of the bad.
Lead Image Credit: Jade Miller