Wednesday Thoughts: How Sports Changed My Life

Painting the rock at Yorktown
Warning: This is going to sound a lot like a college essay because it is based off one I wrote a few years ago. I felt like in the spirit of the Olympics, it would be the perfect opportunity to write something personal about something that I am very passionate about.

If you knew me as a child, you would have never guessed that out of my childhood friends, I would be the one to do college athletics. To quote my father "Emma I remember your last soccer game, it was just painful. After that day I swore never again." Thanks Dad, for all your moral support. I did soccer for 8 years through middle school, and in 6th grade, an ice rink opened up in my hometown (official practice rink for the Washington Capitols- no big deal) and the rink became my home.

Spring Break 2013 Brunch at my house 

I never knew what made me do crew in the first place- I honestly cannot remember, but I know my parents wanted me to do something athletic that didn't require you to have started by the time you could walk. My first year of crew was pretty standard for Washington-Lee. I made new friends, broke a sweat, and inevitably did not finish as well as we wanted, but were looking forward to the next season. My sophomore year started off really well. With a new head coach, I was looking forward to finally getting to compete with upperclassmen in pursuit of a coveted spot on the V8 (Varsity 8- aka the best boat)  and for the first couple of races, I was. However, somewhere in April that year, everything fell apart and though I was trying, I went from the first eight to getting kicked off the second. I cannot remember a time that I felt more lost and really had no idea what I was going to to next.
Me and Olivia from sophomore
year! Can't wait to race ya soon!

Going into junior year, I was more motivated than ever to prove my coach wrong. My parents were on board and on came Fareed- my Bahamian coach who was going to kick my ass for the next two years. I can honestly say I have never been more drained from one individual both physically and emotionally in my entire life. I never cry in public, but I can remember crying in front of him not because I was in pain or was upset, but because my eyes could not physically hold in tears. Yeah, he was one of those trainers, but he honestly changed my life giving me more mental toughness to push myself more than I ever was able to before (I am actually hoping to get him on here for some of his amazing health and fitness tips).

Good times in the 2012 Club Nationals van
The other thing my dad was really pushing was Mid Atlantic Erg Sprints. For most people reading this who have no idea what erg sprints are, imagine this- hundreds of rowers erging in a crowded room with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of screaming parents. My friends will never let it go that one year I actually yelled an explicit at my own mother who was cheerily rooting for me while I was in pain.
Sometimes it really was worth getting
up at 5 am to row
Now my new goal was to get recruited for college, and my dad was not going to let me go in unprepared. So then came into my life the most grueling training schedule. I was going to do my race piece every week for months. And boy did I work. Though I woke up that February morning on the day of the event ready to go, I remember right before my event looking around the room questioning how half of the girls made it through the lightweight category, some had a good 6 inches on me. It was at that moment that I remember wanting nothing more than to just run out of the room and never touch an erg. But as cheesy as this sounds, I remember thinking, ok, I can either run away from this or just go for it. I then saw everything that I had worked for and realized I wasn't going to waste the months I had put in to see it go down the drain. So I sucked it up and ended up finishing first. To see all my hard work pay off was one of the most satisfying feelings in the world, and I would not have done it without all the blood, sweat and tears.
Did I mention I got to row at the most beautiful boathouse ever?

The rest of my junior year, I continued to work hard. I remember combined with the I.B. program curriculum in high school, I was training 7 days a week and sleeping about 4 hours a night That was when I had finally learned what it took to be someone who pushed themselves so hard they couldn't be ignored. My senior year was not as successful crew wise as I wish it could have been, but boy did I have fun. I am definitely a firm believer in working extremely hard at practice but also having fun off the water as well, and some of my favorite high school memories happened that spring, and of course that February, got to sign to my dream school and couldn't be happier.

Overall, as cheesy as it sounds, joining crew changed my life and continues to be one of the best decisions that I ever made. I have had the opportunity to travel,  become such a happier, more motivated person, meet some of my best friends, row at a beautiful boathouse and by being captain, learned what it means to be a leader and how rewarding it can be, even though it means taking responsibility. Looking back at high school, even though I am not even a year out, when thinking of my favorite moments, the ones that come to mind are definitely the things that happened with my teammates, both on and off the water. I also could not do anything without the incredible support of my parents, coaches and friends for always being there to pick up the pieces and help me when things got tough. I guess all I can say is that I hope, whatever it it is, that you have something you do that you love so much that even when it beats you down, and rips your heart out, keeps you coming back. Because somehow when you love it, it makes it all worth it.
Some of the best people on a typical Saturday
at PBC 

Classic Georgetown pic
P.S. (of course) I included some of my favorite pictures from my sophomore, junior and seasons. Looking through these definitely brings back lots of nostalgia, but it also makes me more excited than ever to get back on the water soon for sprints season! Good luck to my Washington-Lee rower and coxes getting back on the water this week! Definitely enjoy the time you are there-it doesn't last forever. I really don't know how you are going out in February and hope you guys don't freeze to death, but good luck and schedule permitting, I hope to come to a regatta!

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