You row? Why aren’t your arms huge?

Hi everyone, I am a junior who transferred to UCSD from Orange Coast College (OCC) as a sophomore. I was recruited as a coxswain for the men’s crew team here at UCSD early on in my first year at OCC (the only community college in the country with a rowing team). A coxswain is the short person who sits in the stern of the boat and steers, organizes and motivates the 4 or 8 rowers sitting in front of them in the boat. On some teams you act as a coach’s assistant and on others your act as the primary scapegoat for anything that goes wrong, it all depends.

The beginning of my career as a coxswain simply started with my OCC coach approaching me the first day of school, asking my height and name. I have competed in the sailing world since I was eight, and he knew me from a few small regattas that we had both participated in the year before. Because I already knew how to skipper a sailboat, he saw this as an advantage and asked me to show up the next day at 5:00am. I was thrown in a 63 foot long boat with eight 20 year old, six foot four guys and told to not only steer the boat with a credit card sized rudder but also coordinate all of them and motivate them. Long story short, I was placed in the men’s top boat a few months later and we went on to have an undefeated season racing teams such as UC Davis, UCSD, Stanford, UCLA, USD among many others. I was then recruited by UCSD, and transferred here fall of 2012.

I coxed on the men’s team here for a year, but I wasn’t getting as much out of coxing as I was originally. I talked to the women’s head coach and asked him if he would be willing to go through the hassle of transferring me to the women’s team to become a rower. I trained all summer, and because of my in depth understanding of all the physical movements of the sport I picked it up pretty quick.

Rowing is something that I have fallen in love with, just like I am sure almost all of my fellow NCAA athletes it has become my life. We practice thirteen to fourteen times a week. So the choice of doing my project on rowing seemed obvious. I would like to have my project center around the difference between men’s rowing and women’s rowing here at UCSD because I have experienced both sides of the spectrum. And even more specifically the coxswain culture that exists within the two different teams. I would also really love to spark an interest, or at least give some insight into a sport that few know much about. I am also looking forward to hearing about all the different topics everyone chooses this class is going to be so interesting!

(And just to give some insight into the title of my blog, rowing is actually 70% leg power, 20% body and 10% arms it’s the most common question we are asked when people find out we row.)

This is what mission bay looks like at 5:00 am.

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One Response to You row? Why aren’t your arms huge?

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I love that you included that image of Mission Bay on such an early morning. Moments such as this is one of the grueling and beautiful sides of sports. Rowing is interesting because so many people don’t encounter the sport until college, but go on to be quite successful. This atypical model presents an alternative to other modes of college sports. Women’s crew is also noteworthy as a favored sport taken up by colleges to offset the gender inequalities of a football team. I wonder if this dialogue enters into the culture of rowing teams much?

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