7 Reasons Why You Should Try Rowing

7 Reasons Why You Should Try Rowing

Seven reasons why anyone who needs or wants to do a sport should check out crew.
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Rowing, I find, is a very underappreciated sport that most people don't know much about. So let's start out by defining what rowing is. Before I began rowing myself, the image that popped into my head when I heard "rowing" or "Crew", was, at best, a bunch of huge guys in a boat rowing a their butts off while someone sat in the front yelling "stroke!" every second or so. At worst, the image that popped up was just some salty old fisherman in a rowboat. I assume that most people, especially those of us in towns without school-organized rowing teams, think of rowing and think of these images. So let's set the record straight:

Rowing, or crew as it's sometimes known, involves a number of people, from one to eight, performing the rowing motion in sync. There are two types of rowing: sculling, where each person has two oars, involving boats that seat one, two, and four people; and sweeping, where each person has one oar, involving boats that seat two, four, and eight people. Sometimes a boat may have a cox (you're allowed to giggle), who, instead of rowing, steers the boat and directs those who are rowing. In boats without a cox, bow seat (the seat furthest to the front) does the cox's job. It is much more common for sweeping boats to have a cox than it is for sculling boats, and eights always have coxes.

As for the motion of rowing, here's a GIF to demonstrate:


Not how you pictured it right? I was certainly surprised when I found out what it actually looked like. Ideally, this is what rowing is, but this guy is a beast who makes it look easy, so novices shouldn't expect to look like this immediately.

So now you know a little bit about the sport of crew. But why should you look into rowing? Well to start out:

1. You get fit AF

Check out the thighs and arms on these guys. Granted, they just won the gold medal at the London Olympics, but even for a novice, rowing is an excellent workout for most major muscles and muscle groups, as well as being some of the best cardio you can get. Add in that a typical competitive team practices for at least two hours four times a week, and you have a recipe for burning some serious calories and building some serious muscle.

2. It builds character



Rowing has changed my outlook on life in more ways than I can count, and I know many rowers who say the same thing. I am a harder worker, a better teammate, and a more stable person than I was two years ago, before I started rowing. At the risk of sounding cheesy, crew has made me who I am today.

3. Height/weight/body type will not decide if you are good or not

OK, so this might be a little untrue. It is generally true that tall, slim people dominate the upper echelons of rowing (just watch the Olympics or the world championships). However, it is effort, not shape or size, that decides how good of a rower you are in the end. I have won races against boats with people twice the size of my teammates, and I have lost to people smaller than I am (I'm about 5'9). I'm not saying you can be 5'2 and win every race if you practice more: I'm saying that it is possible to be 5'2 and win, and that you can be 5'2 and still have a great time. Also, for you really tiny, really light people, you can become a cox, and believe me, coxes are at least as respected as anyone who pulls on an oar.

4. You can chose how you row

Not much of a teammate? Row a single! Love the dynamic and intimacy of tennis pairs or synchronized diving? Row a double or a pair! Like being part of something big, and getting to know four to nine people? Row a quad, a four, or an eight! There is a boat for every kind of person, unless of course, you're the kind of person who doesn't like rowing.

5. You get to attend regattas


OK, I should probably explain this picture before I say anything else. If you win with a cox, its customary for rowers to throw the cox off the dock after you get off the water. Just one of the many fun things that can happen at regattas, the rowing equivalent of a track meet. There are vendors selling various cool rowing related items, teams from the surrounding towns and states, and usually plenty of good food. However, you are there to race. While it can be nerve-wracking waiting to race and disappointing if you lose, the fun usually outweighs the negative aspect. Plus, there's always a chance that you come home with a shiny new medal...

6. Colleges LOVE rowers

Its possible to get into some very good schools off of a rowing scholarship, as the above picture demonstrates. Because rowing is a sport most people start in college, rowers who are already experienced when they get to college are very valuable. If you're ambitious and talented, you can get recruited into legendary programs with ancient rivalries and storied coaches. Even if you don't end up getting recruited, or if you don't plan on rowing in college, rowing looks great on your transcript.

7. You make friends. REALLY good friends

When you join a club team or a rowing team, you get to know your teammates and coaches very well. After all, you might be spending 12 hours a week with these people. But by the end of the season, when all is said and done, your teammates, those you are in the boat with especially, are some of you closest friends. This fall season, I'm rowing in a quad, and although we've only competed in one race so far, we're already super close. In rowing, you can join for any number of reasons, but you stay for your team.

I row at Nereid Boat Club on the Passaic River in Rutherford.

Cover Image Credit: Clinton Rowing Club

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To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
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"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

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College Athletics Aren't For The Faint Of Heart

More discipline, sureness of self, and time management is needed than you know.

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I'm writing this two days after my college soccer career came to an end. For four years I spent early mornings lifting insane amounts of weight, afternoons spent running insane amounts of sprints, and evenings spent catching up on insane amounts of homework. College athletics can drain you; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. In fact, it WILL drain you. You will hit mental walls, seasons of spiritual dryness, and physical exhaustion. It's not for the faint of heart.

You always hear how college sports are such an accomplishment and such a big deal. Like it's all notable and amazing and they just take a little hard work and time management. But no one ever tells you that it will test you (in EVERY way) and it has the ability depress you, defeat you, and turn you into someone you aren't. Because here's the thing, whether you like it or not, your world becomes so influenced by the sport you dedicate at least 5 hours a day to. You will get so consumed and sucked into every coach decision, missed pass, off practice, whatever it is, that it can and will run your world and emotions. And as I walked into the locker room to turn in my jersey's today I realized how silly it all was. The amount of times I cried tears cause I didn't get to wear that jersey for one home Friday game. The amount of times I let a word my coach said ruin my whole day. The amount of times I acted completely unlike myself because of every built up emotion of exhaustion or frustration from the sport.

For four years there was a constant inner fight to remain true to myself, my values, my integrity, my kind and generous heart, and my nearly consistent joy and happiness towards life. I was constantly pulling myself out of a narrow-minded viewpoint that only focused on this college soccer team in this small college town and reminding myself of the entire world out there and everything else that matters in it. Had I not been attentive to this inner battle, had I not practiced discipline constantly, and had I not fought to keep my faith at the front of my life - college athletics would have eaten me up and spat me out and I more than likely would be lost, defeated, and struggling with my identity.

College athletics isn't for the faint of heart. It's not for everyone. It's also not just an accolade or something to celebrate solely for the title. It's something that can make or break a person. It's something that can cause you to question everything. It's something that, when you do make it through all four years, will leave you with an immense gratitude for perspective, trueness to self, perseverance, and faith. For without those, you probably wouldn't make it through 4 years of college athletics, and even if you did, you probably wouldn't recognize the person in the mirror. So if you completed four years of college athletics, congratulations. I hope it impacted you for the better. And for those of you about to embark on the next four years of college athletics, know this - it is what you make it and you will become what you allow yourself to become.

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