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!