It is hard to describe how it feels to row. It is a sport often associated with grueling pain, but it is so much more than that. For me, rowing is sitting in your boat with your best friends, watching a beautiful sunset. It is working as a team, moving in harmony and rhythm. Rowing is the feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins as you and your team push through that last 250-meter line. Rowing has changed who I am, boosting my confidence and forcing me to throw my whole body and mind into a sport that I hadn’t even known existed until last year.
I never could have predicted where I am today with rowing. I have swam and played water polo for six years on various teams, but even after all these years, I have never really been able to fit in and find people I really love. Last year, however, rowing was introduced to me by a few friends and seniors, and I signed up for the Oakland Tech Rowing Team. Our team is small, and it competes with larger schools and clubs like Marin or Berkeley. But despite our small size, we are able to hold our ground and even go beyond that.
I have met many new friends because of rowing, and they have been a huge blessing in my life. In a single year of rowing I have met not just kids from Tech, but kids all over the continent, including New Jersey, Florida, and Canada, mostly because of my participation in an Olympic Development Program based in Tennessee. I’ve met so many great coaches whom I’ve had the honor of working with, including two three time Gold Olympic winning rowers. Our current coach is Erin Cafaro, a two time gold medalist.
In my year of rowing, there have been many times where I have had to search deeper inside myself to harness the physical and mental strength needed to push through the pain. But rowing is teamwork, and nothing compares to the feeling of almost blacking out with friends, muscles straining in sync, and pain shared between everyone.
So while the effort of rowing is great, the reward is even better. It is a great way to get in shape and build strength and endurance. It also helps with getting into college. Most colleges are looking for rowers and offer various rowing scholarships. Schools like Stanford and U.C Berkeley pride themselves on their rowing teams, and their coaches will help you get to where you want to go.
But more importantly, when I think of rowing, I think of moving at high speeds, giving it your all with your coxswain yelling and encouraging you. I think of the friends I have made and the love I have fostered for the sport. I think of the relief it gives me from the stress of school and everyday life. I cannot express my gratitude enough for rowing, as it helped so much in high school. All being said and done, I really feel that rowing is a sport that everyone should experience in one form or another. And who knows, maybe someone will fall in love with it, just as I did.