SMU Women’s Rowing: Hard Work Paying Off

May 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Samantha Cangelosi

Watching the sunrise over White Rock Lake is not a common occurrence for most SMU students, unless you are a member of the rowing team.

The sunrise not only marks the beginning of a new day, but the beginning of another grueling practice.

“Practices are hard, not only because the workouts are exhausting most of the time, but also because we have them so early,” said Lauren Doucet, a junior member of SMU’s women’s rowing team.

At 5:25 a.m., 31 dedicated women meet at the lake to begin their practice with a warm-up run only to be followed by a workout full of critiques.

The life of a SMU rower is far from dull, yet their experience at a university is completely different than just an average student’s. From academics to social lives, the responsibilities these women take on when becoming a collegiate athlete are not to be taken lightly.

“I have to be smart about how I plan my days,” says Doucet. “Rowing has pretty much consumed my entire college experience. I seem to be on a repeat schedule of practice, class, nap, class, practice every day.”

While many girls meet friends through sororities and other on campus organizations, members of the rowing team have a commonality with each other that helps with establishing true friendships.

“I’ve met some people that, I feel like if I were to have met them in a different setting, I probably wouldn’t have become friends just because rowing is what we have in common,” said sophomore team member Haley King.

Rowing first entered the collegiate sporting arena in 1843 when a Yale student purchased a second hand boat, according to the Augusta Rowing Club. The very first intercollegiate rowing race was held nine years later between Harvard and Yale. Since then, rowing has been an important asset to collegiate athletic programs across the country.

The first women’s rowing program began in 1877 at Wellesley College, yet women rowers have only been considered “athletes” of the sport for the past 25 years, according to the Augusta Rowing Club. Although still fresh on the athletic scene, women’s rowing is the fastest growing NCAA sport.

Along with being a competitive new sport for women, it is a fairly recent addition to SMU athletics. The women’s rowing team was established only 10 years ago.Some team members find it difficult to be a part of a sport that has not caught the attention of many yet, while others feel special to be a part of the force behind its growing popularity.

“Not many people know about rowing,” says junior rower Hannah Hansing. “We all like having spectators, but rowing isn’t high on the popularity list.”

“I wish more people could come and watch us row,” says King.

Doucet disagrees: “It is fun to be one of the people who is helping grow the popularity of the sport.”

However, there is one thing that the team agrees on: this sport isn’t for the lazy and weak.

“I want people to know how hard we work out,” says Hansing. “It takes a lot of dedication to be a rower and make it through all of our workouts.”

Rowing takes the saying “no pain, no gain” to a whole new level. Practices can be extremely difficult, but all the hard work pays off on the water.

“It isn’t always pretty, but we continue to work hard no matter what,” Hansing said.

As the season draws closer to an end, the team hits the road to compete at races all across the country, competing in races in Tennessee, Oklahoma, California, and Texas. On April 16-18, the team competed in the San Diego Crew Classic.

“We won the petite final by about five boat lengths of open water, which is about 15 seconds,” King said.

The SMU rowing team members then headed to Tennessee for the Southwest Intercollegiate Rowing Association race where it, again, snagged the first place spot in the petite finals.

The rowers’ last race of the season will be the NCAA Regional Qualifiers on May 15-16. Last year the girls finished second in the consolation finals.

“Our team is the smallest it has been in years,” says King. “But, we hope to be more successful and finish with a higher ranking than last year.”