by Ellie Bell (Tisch '18)
Dear Novice Ellie,
Good morning! Rise and shine! It’s 4:30AM, time for crew! I know novice year is rough. Your bed is still calling you, your boat hasn’t found it’s set, your 2k time isn’t what you wanted and, you didn’t even start talking with your team until February. Crew is a tough sell, but you stuck it out. You’re varsity now. You’re more than two years in and you’re doing it. Look, I know we didn’t really buckle down right away but, I’m writing you from a happier version of yourself to tell you what I know now and what I wish I knew when I was you.
Firstly, get up. You get up at 4 now, 3:50 if you want coffee. You jog to the bus and the train. You read a book on the way to practice. You see the sunrise at least four days a week and now the mornings are comforting. Your night-vision is ninja-level and you layer like a boss. So wipe the sleep out of your eyes and start being grateful for the lifestyle that this sport has allowed you.
Also, Ellie, for god’s sake, work out! Push yourself. The first time you pulled a sub-8 2k, you felt the pride of a full year of hard work and you’re looking at years more to get that time even lower. Don’t stop working, that’d be a waste. You love the gym, you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished. Allow yourself to achieve that level of pride as early as possible. Just keep asking yourself: What do you want out of this? How badly do you want it? Remind yourself: Prove it.
Lastly, be grateful for your teammates. As a rower and a human, be grateful. You have thirty-five hooligans who are committed, hard-working, funny, and passionate about things you know nothing about. Take advantage of all the good vibes they’re sending. You’re family now, you can’t shake those meme-making, pasta-eating, spandex-wearing boat-lovers no matter how hard you try.
It’s going to suck sometimes but, you don’t give up. You won’t always get the seat you want, you’ll have a bad taste in your mouth, you’ll get annoyed or grumpy one morning, but these are your people. Love your people. Make garlic bread for your people. Lend people your jacket on cold mornings. Scream at your people to pull harder on a 2k. Squeeze your people tight when you win a medal. Be thankful for your people. Work harder than you knew you could, for your people.
So really, keep it up, kid. This team is important.
Your Varsity self
P.S. You still miss water at the catch and at this point it’s like Ellie, for real? Like, just drop your blade then drive. Jeez.
Rising senior, Julia Seebeck, documented scenes from the spring season for her film photography class! Check out the gallery below.
by Alexa Zachary (Tisch '17)
When I first started rowing at NYU, it was because I had seen the close friends my brother had made and heard the stories from his years of rowing through high school and at Berkeley. NYU can be a fantastic experience if you find the group that shares the same passions as you do. When you wake up at 4:00AM to train on the water in Jersey, spending car trips listening to the passenger seat’s favorite song, catching up on the funniest rowing story of the week, or banking in on that extra sleep you promised yourself, you are creating friendships and bonding with the people on your team. At a university as big as NYU, that sense of belonging is really important. From California to New York, I have seen crew teams change a person’s perspective on how they can work with others and have confidence in themselves. This reflects well in any field of study, university and beyond, and affects all of the people connected to the crew team. As I’ve heard a coach say, “it doesn’t matter where you are, there will always be a boathouse and a team of rowers nearby”. It’s that simple. People join rowing clubs all around the world because its rigor, sportsmanship, and cooperation form a close-knit bond between the rowers.
That is why, as soon as I arrived at Trinity College Dublin, I immediately started looking for their rowing club. I knew that the experience at Trinity was going to be an amazing one, but I wanted the chance to work alongside Trinity rowers and find my team within campus life. Even before I arrived on campus, I was sending emails and Facebook messages and posting on the rowing page to see if I could possibly train with the team. I knew that if the TCD rowing team was anything like our team back home, they would represent a great community within the university. I remember being so nervous to attend the first practice, imagining scenes in which the entire varsity team stood behind me and watched as I attempted a 6K, however I was welcomed into the club by members who were enthusiastic to help me fit in. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of my teammates, both upon my arrival and throughout the entire season. This was helped by the fact that there were several international students who were eager to help the one member who was newer than they were! Additionally, when I met the very caring and dedicated coach, Andrew Coleman, he reassured me that if I was willing to put in the work I could certainly belong to their club.
Rowing for Trinity was an amazing experience. Everything from getting my very own pink and black uniforms to being able to race stroke was exciting and nerve-wracking. Throughout rowing training, our coach, originally from Henley, would use amazingly original phrases to point out how we were rowing, such as, “girls, you’re not making Cappuccinos, it’s all froth and no substance!” Indeed the training that we had was tough, yet very encouraging. The teammates arrived at the boathouse for 6:30AM practices, determined to improve their technique, no matter how rough the water on River Liffey was. It was incredible to see the team constantly pushing forward and motivating each other to keep up their technique and beat their last split times.
Through Ireland’s sun, rain, rainbows, and hail, we raced as one team, pushing each other to keep going. The TCD boat club was a small club amongst many, however it did not stop the team from tackling the racecourses in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, winning medals and constantly getting stronger. I could tell that these women wanted to be there and I saw as Andrew took their own motivation and guided them further.
Studying abroad in Ireland was amazing in itself, however on the TCD rowing team I was able to travel and compete with a fantastic group of supportive friends. I loved to see the countryside of Ireland, and I was able to meet some of the rower’s families, those of whom never disappointed me with their Irish charm and hospitality. One may say that I missed out on a great deal of traveling by participating in races and practicing with the team, yet I definitely believe I’ve gotten the true Irish experience, spending time with the local rowers and joining in on one of the sports they like best.
I am now sitting on my bed in a TCD dorm room, watching my final Irish sunset through the window and smiling at all the memories I get to keep from rowing at our boathouse in Islandbridge. I wish these girls all the luck in the world and I can't wait to get back to rowing at NYU this fall!
by Abbey Robbins (College of Arts and Sciences '18)
I joined crew in high school simply because I was bad at everything else. I had tried softball, lacrosse and soccer but my lack of hand-eye coordination usually left me injured or embarrassed. I hadn’t tried rowing before, so I thought there was hope that maybe I wouldn’t be awful at it. So, with no knowledge of what I was getting into, I began rowing.
After some time on the high school team, I decided to join a local club team called the Blood Street Sculls (the lake we rowed on bordered a street named Blood Street, and “sculls” because we mainly raced sculling boats as opposed to sweeping). This team quickly became all-consuming as we traveled to different states for competitions, met with nutritionists, and found new and painful erg workouts to try.
When I made the decision to join NYU Crew, I didn’t know what to expect. Coming from Connecticut, crew is a very big deal and I wasn’t sure what the mentality of the team would be. It turned out to be exactly what I needed. The team is not only incredibly kind, but also the work ethic is inspiring. We may be a club team, but the level of effort I see from my teammates on a daily basis is honorable to say the least.
In my life, rowing has consistently helped me succeed. In high school, my crew team pushed me to set my sights high for college and to push myself in every facet of my life. In college, crew helps create balance and it relieves stress. Even though I’m tired 100% of the time and my quads are perpetually sore, I’m actually far more successful in the other aspects of my life because of it.
My former coach used to yell this one thing at me at the 500 meter mark of my 2k tests. He would say, “Just make the decision to go”. At first, I hated it: 2ks are not as simple as that. But eventually, it grew on me. There is something very liberating about doing something you don’t think you’re capable of. To this day, I use that quote as a motivator, especially when my alarm goes off and it’s time for crew practice. I make the decision to go.
by Nicole Lauer (College of Nursing '18)
You don’t wake up at 4:00 AM to push your body to its breaking point with just anyone. You do it with your teammates. With your best friends. With your family. And, I miss my family. I went from spending eighteen hours a day with one teammate or another to being half a world away from all of them. As I sit here carbo-loading on jollof rice and fufu for a race that I won’t actually race this semester, I am reminded of my team everywhere I look, here in Ghana. I go to the beach and find boats that look nothing like racing shells sitting near the un-rowable ocean. I see small men sitting in the driver’s seat of taxis yelling at me and asking me where the heck I think I’m going, so naturally I think of my beloved coxswains. Five minutes of walking in this hazy, humid heat and I’m as drenched and dehydrated as if I had just finished a 2k.
But despite the sweat, I’m not stroking a boat full of four of my best friends. I’m not rolling my eyes at the orders and screeches of my best friend in a head set. I’m not falling asleep next to my best friends in early morning van ride. I’m not trudging to the gym to meet my best friends after long days of classes and work. I’m not eating breakfast, going on coffee runs, or simply studying with my best friends anymore. I am studying away for four months in Accra, Ghana. But, don’t get me wrong, I am having an absolutely incredible experience and I am loving every second of it! Living 5,117 miles away from New York City means exploring a world of new opportunities. Since moving to Accra, I walked a canopy walkway 120 feet above the ground in Kakum National Park, I spent my spring break stalking giraffes and rhinos on a safari in South Africa, and I swam in the other side of the Atlantic. Living in Ghana is so incredibly different from anything I have ever experienced and it's an experience I won't forget anytime soon.
But, amidst the whirlwind of markets and mangoes, I can’t help but wish I could jump in a boat and pull a few power tens to alleviate some of the stress and homesickness that the overwhelming culture shock can cause. The importance of this team has always been apparent but with distance and perspective, I am truly grateful for the people and the experiences. I don’t want to get any sappier than this so, I’ll end on this Ghanaian proverb, “Life is forwards and backwards.” As you all know, the rowing motion is forwards and backwards. Basically, rowing is life. Yεbεhyia bio, see you soon.
by Paolo Verzani (Steinhardt '18)
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Jean Brillat-Savarin, a french writer, politician, and gastronomist. His famous quote from his book The Physiology of Taste goes, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”. Truly, If one were to analyze the diet of the dedicated athletes on our team, anyone could see how active we really are.
NYU rowers train, on average, ten times per week and burn an average of 800-1200 calories per workout. Two of these sessions in one day can put an athlete in, at minimum, a 1,600 cal deficit - - nearly half a day’s worth of energy for the average male athlete. At this point in our lives, the college years, our metabolism is at it’s peak and therefore consistent, high-energy meals are required to make up and prepare for this deficit of energy if the student-athlete wants to simultaneously keep up with his/her training, studies, and health.
In order to keep up with the intensity and duration of the workouts, a rower has to dedicate time and effort to their diet. But, our definition of “diet” doesn’t imply restriction of any sort. Due to the demand of our sport, a consistent eating schedule is necessary if a rower wishes to maintain their energy levels to avoid the risk of falling asleep in class or “crashing” during a workout. Therefore, I have discovered that if I want to keep up with my training and studying, I have to temporarily set aside the rules about “normal dietary practices.” We are taught how to eat based on a 2000-2500 cal/day diet but by the time the clock strikes 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I may have already eaten this much... or more.
Put simply, if I have just completed a 60 minute steady-state piece on the erg, I am probably not interested in eating a salad with grilled chicken and a low-fat dressing - - that is just not enough food to make up what I’ve lost in the workout. By studying Nutrition and Food Studies, I am taught that someone in my position should be eating what is necessary and managing energy without compromise. I have learned that our bodies are like sports cars: one cannot put low-quality fuel in their engine and expect it function the way it should. The best student- athletes are very aware of their diet and if they care about their sport, will design a healthful diet that compliments their active lifestyle to propel them towards success in and out of competition.
A student-athlete cannot compare himself to the average person, because they aren’t average people. They make the choice to wake up at 4:00am and utilize their stored energy for the greater good of their teammates, coaches, families, and their sport. Rowers, in particular, sacrifice hours of time and energy to their conditioning and competition which ultimately is reflected in their diet. Brillat-Savarin would be blown away by fascination of the eating habits of a student-athlete, he would marvel at the dedication and consistency we exhibit towards our schooling, training, and our eating.
by Olivia Sidoti (Steinhardt '19)
The summer before I started high school, I thought I would be a volleyball player (Volleyball-er? Volleyball athlete?) I couldn’t tell you why I thought that. Honestly, I’ve always been the smallest of all my friends and I’m not particularly athletic either. I think what it came down to was the fact that all my more athletically skilled friends had chosen to do a fall sport and I had no interest in sitting alone every day after school. So goddamnit I was going to bump, set, whatever the hell out of those balls. Fortunately for me, I was the only person cut from volleyball. I was left with two options for sports to join after that: track and crew. The two sports that didn’t have tryouts because they didn’t make cuts. I hate running so I made the best decision of my life and chose crew.
Milton High School’s crew team was in its first fall season ever. We had about fourteen people on the team and owned three old, yellow Dirigos. It’s funny, most people on the team joined due to similar misfortunes. There were many of the scrawny nerd type who wanted to be fit but had zero athletic ability. There were the children whose parents—so sick of seeing them lazing around the house with no purpose—forced them to sign up. My personal favorite story came from a rower who would eventually be my captain. He said, “I didn’t think it would be this involved.” He told me he needed twenty dollars from his mother. She agreed to the charity on the condition he join the crew team.
And, boy, was the sport involved. For the next four years, I spent seven days a week and anywhere between four and twelve hours a day with these people. I loved every minute. The team grew. We went through an outlandish amount of coaches; from a Serbian national rower to a navy seal to a Canadian Spanish teacher. We grew. We went from dead last to holding our own to actually winning. We became so incredibly devoted to each other. I made some of the best friends on the team. My boyfriend was the stroke seat of my eight last year—a fact which the other rowers (and coaches!) teased greatly. I used to go to all the school’s jazz concerts simply because my rowers were performing in it. The boys in my boat were wild and knew just how to aggravate me. They’ve also been kinder to me than any of my other friends when I really needed it. Thats how family works, right? They were my family and they were a great one. I could write pages about my love for all the boys and girls I’ve had the pleasure to have in my boat, but I won’t. Because this is the part where I leave the nest. This is where NYU comes in.
Crew has been my life for the last four years. It wasn’t even a thought to whether I would join this crew team or not. The first couple practices left me feeling sad. I wanted what I left. But by the end of the first week I noticed something familiar about the team that I don’t think I would have found at just any other school. A freshman again, joining, I am at the start. I learn more about the people who come in and out of my boat. I’m beginning to love each breakfast and party and van ride. Any kind of outing with them makes me more and more excited for what I am being given. NYU Crew is giving me a new family. I am going to get to grow again, with them. We are going to grow.
I am in love with the sport. But crew is more than just rowing. Crew is everything else. Crew is the people and the time and the experiences rowing gives. I am so thankful for all it has given me and tenfolds more so for what it will.
by Elisabeth Andersson (CAS '18)
I’m typing this post on top of a sleeping cat and I just got my hair cut for the first time in a few years, which means that I’m obligated to keep it down for the entire day. Also, I just wrote about a thousand cover letters, so it’s entirely possible my fingers are fused to the keyboard. But, there you have it — a look into the life of a student-athlete over winter break.
We are intricate and complicated creatures that are very difficult to understand. We even use big words like ergometer. That’s not true, we cant even do that—we shortened it to erg. Oh look, I put my hair up. I lasted a whole fifteen minutes after my haircut! This is much better, now let’s get down to business.
We’re ready to get back to school. The team is suffering from extensive separation anxiety, which we express through a continuous chain of snapchats that sport as many double chins as the subjects can possibly fit between their chest and nose. Every time we go to our respective gyms and sit on the single erg placed awkwardly in the one space they couldn’t fit another treadmill, we sustain an enormous emotional crisis. This is especially prevalent when we look to our right, and, in place of the people that make us work harder and stay at an eighteen stroke rating for an ENTIRE sixty minute piece (yes I’m salty, dammit!), we find instead a yoga pant-clad, middle-aged woman reading People magazine on her elliptical, thinking 'this year is the year I keep my new year’s resolution.' Little does she know that this is the last day she will use her gym membership until December 23, 2016.
The next challenge after sitting down on the erg without the normal crew family is deciding what to do. And after that, it’s actually doing it. I’m so bored and this lady next to me is not helping—put the magazine down, please. In a few days she won’t be able to understand why, after the tens of minutes she spent on the elliptical with her magazine over the past few days, nothing has changed! So yes, it’s time to get back to school, where teammates work their asses off and New Year’s resolutions don’t exist because they aren’t new resolutions.
But returning to school presents another setback. As the Coles Sports Center is knocked down, many sports teams and lots of equipment are being relocated to Palladium, the main location of the crew’s winter training. The eight ergs that forty rowers manage to all use twice a day every day are being relocated to allow for the influx of many new varsity teams. Where will they go, our only useful machine for the entire winter season, you ask? Well, since it is exceedingly difficult to tilt the ergs upright against a wall so that they take up less than a foot of floor space, they are in storage until a suitable home is found for them. (For the record, 1. ergs are very easy to stand upright and 2. I would personally carry the ergs to a dorm basement if I’m just given the okay by the right person. Heck, put ‘em in a parking garage for all I care, I’ll just wear a hat.)
So, maybe winter training sucks. It hurts like hell, your body is constantly sore, and you’d better hope you’re always on the ground floor of a building— or at least that the building has an elevator— because descending stairs is the most painful thing a sore body can endure. Otherwise your best bet is sitting on your butt and sliding down the stairs. NYU rowers during winter season are like cats in trees: they can go up, but they don’t think about how they’ll get back down. Especially since the NYU campus was built vertically rather than horizontally like most college campuses.
Yet, if you’ve ever met a rower, you know that “it sucks,” “it’s good for you” and “it feels amazing” are all synonyms. Rowing is a bad addiction, and once you’re in, you’re in. We can’t claim that two-a-days are a commitment; in fact, we find it difficult to stay away from the gym for more than that. Some of us, can’t. Which is why there is at least one NYU rower at the gym every minute it’s open (except after 9 PM, of course, because we’ll be asleep by then). And, despite the monotony of staring at a wall for an hour or two every day rather than gazing upon the beautiful landscape that is the majestic, sparkling Passaic River, we know that these torture devices that we drench with our blood, sweat and tears (literally) will make us mean and fierce competitors in the world of collegiate rowing.
Thanks for reading this long-winded blog post. I had fun writing it but I’m done with winter break. It’s time to erg.
by Jeremy Lakin (CAS '15)
When I got to NYU, I finally had the opportunity for the fresh start that my parents, friends, and guidance counselor had promised me but, I missed being a part of a team. The first week of practice was grueling; it felt like they wanted us to quit. When we weren’t erging, we were running, lifting, spinning, doing burpees, or carrying 45-lb plates everywhere. My first race season was equally challenging, and I’ll never forget the storm at my first head race on the Schuylkill River, in Philadelphia. By the end of that season, the eight of us in the Men’s Novice 8 boat were closer than I had ever been with my soccer teammates after 14 years. We kept each other motivated on and off the water, and then all through winter training even after we went home. I realized that rowing was the sport I had always been training for, but never knew it.
Sports did not come very easily to me. I was (and still am) not the most coordinated individual, but I knew how to operate in a team and I played supporting roles well. High school sports were tough because I was closeted athlete in a rural, Mennonite community. I had transferred schools because the bullying and abuse from teammates at my old school had gotten to be too much and, even in a more liberal high school, I never felt truly accepted.
A lot has changed since freshman year of college. After 14 years of playing soccer, rowing began to rise to the forefront. The same work ethic that my novice coaches ingrained in me made me work harder, get faster, and stronger. It got me into a US Rowing development camp at Columbia, and helped my masters team ALMOST win at the Canadian Henley. I am now a part of the greater rowing community: last summer at a regatta in Princeton I ran into my old coach, former teammates, and a former coxswain. But most importantly, rowing introduced me to a much smaller but impactful community, Row New York.
Row New York transforms the lives of young New Yorkers, regardless of background or athletic ability, by teaching them to row and providing academic and social support. Row New York currently serves 230 middle school and high school students in our year-round intensive program, and more than 2,200 across all our programs, including PE classes in NYC public middle schools, summer camps, para-rowing for athletes with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, and programs for adults. I was fortunate enough to be an assistant coach with the high school rowers for a summer. These kids are awesome, way cooler than I ever was/am. They’ve learned the lessons crew has taught me at a much earlier age which shows in their friendships and maturity (most days, they are still kids after all).
This weekend, I will be participating in Row New York’s annual ergathon, the Jingle Mingle. If you told me as a freshman that I would coach rowing, be on the Young Executives Board of a nonprofit organization, or willingly participate in an ergathon, I would’ve thought that you were joking. However, if you had told me in high school that I would be a rower, be a part of a global rowing community, or forge lifelong friendships with people that I wake up at 4:30 AM to hang out with, give up my weekends to compete with, and wear ridiculous matching outfits with, I probably would have thought you were insane. I honestly have no idea what inspired me to join the crew team at NYU but, 5 years later, I’m so glad I did.
- Make sure to head to http://www.rownewyork.org/ to find more information about Jingle Mingle and the impact of Row New York!!
by Maggie Baert (CAS '16)
Fall semester is coming to a close and with it, winter training is upon us. As students, we are preparing for exams and writing final papers. As rowers, we are preparing for spring season and thinking about the day when we can finally get back on the water. In between, we face early mornings erging, running stairs, lifting, repeat. While we appreciate the break from the cold and avoiding the Lincoln Tunnel traffic on the way back from water practice, nothing beats being out on the water and seeing the sunrise. Training on the water is very different from facing the cinderblock wall behind the ergs.
There is nothing pretty about erging or weight training but, it’s the basis for our spring semester. There is little external motivation and, for many a time to build mental toughness. Some might assume it’s an off-season but, in reality, it’s the secret for spring preparation. We take with us what we learned in the fall, and we get ready for the next adventures and goals we set for ourselves.
This semester, we stayed on the water longer than usual, until the Friday before Thanksgiving break. We had an extra two weeks to practice drills and get extra meters in without worrying about racing lineups. But, the journey from Manhattan to Lyndhurst, NJ is over for now. Winter Training starts in November and continues until the end of March - - or until the river unfreezes. During these months, indoor workouts can become long and tiresome. However, with such an eventful and exciting fall season behind us, it’s hard to forget everything that we experienced and learned, both as a team and individually. This past semester was full of improvements and I look forward to seeing how this progress carries over into next semester. The varsity team of the team developed as rowers through intense workouts and mental preparation in order to successfully race at some of the most famous regattas in the world. The novice team not only learned how to row, they also were able to compete a few times this season and perform well, building team spirit along the way.
NYU Crew had a busy fall season. We raced on three consecutive weekends, in three different cities. Varsity kicked off the racing season with an unforgettable weekend at the famous Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA. The next weekend, the entire team travelled to Philly to race at the last of the famed Fall Fury series, the Head of the Schuylkill. We were all prepared for this regatta and yet, the day threw us a curve, and our trailer got a flat tire and did not make it to the course on time. What could have been a very disappointing day turned into one of our favorites. NYU was able to race all of its crews thanks to five different colleges that graciously let us borrow their boats and cox boxes. It was an incredible day that reinforced our love for the greater rowing community. With a quick turnaround, the team finished out the racing season with a crisp day at the Head of the Fish Regatta in Saratoga Springs, NY. Both novice and varsity crews got to compete on a beautiful and (mostly) straight race course. Later, in early November, we closed out the racing part of our semester with a dual race against Stevens Institute of Technology, also known affectionately as “The Donut Cup.” Although we enjoyed the experience of racing on our home course, we especially appreciated the amount of food brought to the race by parents from both Stevens and NYU.
Most of us don’t want to leave the boats and the river. At the same time, we are excited to see results and set new goals. This training not only builds our strength and endurance, it also develops confidence. With a solid fall season behind us, we can’t stop now, and we don’t want to either. As we go our separate ways for break, we are taking with us the memories from this fall as we train for the spring. Winter training isn’t meant to be an off-season, it’s meant to motivate us for the next step.