Dedicated to Ligita Kaviere, Assistant Women's Rowing Coach at USC
Three years ago I wasn’t the athlete that you expected to like and you weren’t the coach I expected to like either, but today you are the reason that I will get where I am going because you have gotten me to where I am.
I was a nobody - a non-recruited athlete, with a less than optimal body build and physiological capacity for my sport, but you treated me like I had the potential to be an Olympian and because of you, I became one of the best on the team. Even though your own experience as a collegiate athlete at the same program and with the same head coach was vastly different than mine, you were still able to understand me and empathize with me, even if you didn’t know exactly what I was going through.
You weren’t the kind of coach to pick me up each time I got knocked down. You were the kind of coach who taught me that I was strong enough to get back up on my own. I believe that I needed both the sunshine and the rain to help me grow. Thank you for being the sunshine. Without you, I fear that I may have been washed away by the storm.
My first two years of college were also the two hardest years of my life, but you were with me through my worst days and my best. When I was struggling and I felt alone, 2500 miles away from my family, you became my family.
It breaks my heart that you are no longer my coach and I want you to know that I’m going to miss you like hell. I’m going to miss your snarky side comments and your sarcastic sense of humor. I’m going to miss being able to hear you shout, “STARBOARD SIDE OF THE CHANNEL!” through your megaphone from over a mile away. I’m going to miss teasing you about how you mispronounce my name and overuse article adjectives. I’m going to miss you teasing me about being short and weird and socially awkward. I’m going to miss the way you go above and beyond to make sure there’s never any peanuts, tree nuts, legumes, or shellfish in any of the food.
Most of all I’m going to miss you. But I also know that I will be OK without you because you have made me into the athlete that I am today and in my heart, you will always be the coach, who had the greatest impact on my life. Even though I feel like our time together was cut short, I will take what I have learned from you into the rest of my career as an elite athlete in my senior year of college and beyond. You helped me overcome my fear of judgment, my fear of failure, and my fear of not being liked. You taught me the importance of looking past first impressions, how to see through another’s eyes, not to worry about things I can’t control, to trust my instincts and my conscience, and to see myself as someone worth fighting for.
Even though you aren’t technically my coach anymore and you won’t be with me at my races, I want you to know that when I’m at the starting line and self-doubt starts to creep in and I start to hear this voice telling me I’m going to fail, I will choose to hear your voice instead telling me I’m going to fly.