Meet Abi, an alumna from the 2016 RSR Development Team.
Holly: Abi! How are you doing?
Abi: I am doing great and loving it here, but it is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life ... but totally worth it.
Holly: Tell me about a day in the life for an Ohio State rower.
Abi: My alarm goes off at 5:20am 6 days a week. We take a 30min bus ride to the lake and it's gorgeous! Our boathouse is brand new and we have the absolute best facilities. We do a warmup and then launch around 6:30am and come back to the dock around 8:30am. We do our core work and then head home. I am usually home around 9:30 or 10am. I eat, shower and study. I study in between all my classes during the day because at night I am too exhausted to study. I have classes and study until about 3 or 4 most days. M-F in the afternoons we lift or erg and Saturdays we have practice in the morning. We also have some OYO workouts during the week too.
Holly: What are you studying?
Abi: Majoring in computer science and engineering with a minor in aviation. Ohio State offers so many classes that I have the options to plan out my schedule so that my classes don't conflict with practice time.
Holly: Tell me about your team culture.
Abi: The culture here is absolutely incredible. It's really the only word I can use to describe it. I love being a part of it. When you're here, you are a member of the team and I could call on anyone if I am having a rough day or need to talk and she will be there for me. It's really one of a kind. I couldn't see myself anywhere else. We are about 50 girls (that is not including novices). We have a weight efficiency standard based off our regular erg tests that you have to hit to get your gear, which is really awesome because then you know you earned it. We test regularly here.
Holly: What are you most excited about?
Abi: Training. I am feeling more and more a member of the team and I am excited to get faster and become a better teammate. I don't want to just be a good athlete, I want to be a great teammate - the best teammate I can be. I am excited to develop as an athlete. I have already lost 20lbs and I want to be one of the elite athletes that comes out of Ohio State. They have amazing resources and support structures here for us, a nutritionist, a special dining hall with meal options specified for athletes that is teaching me how to be safe, healthy and efficient. They are offering me all the tools that I need to be that elite athlete. And the coaches really care and want to see you succeed.
Holly: Tell me about the competition on the team.
Abi: We are very competitive. But if someone's having a rough day we'll help them do what you have to do. Everyone wants everyone to succeed. The competition with each other is to get to the point where you all want to be.
Holly: What have you learned about yourself?
Abi: I am a lot tougher than I thought I was. I have done stuff already that I never thought I would do - it's incredible. I am learning about myself as a person. On days when I am beat up and sore, I can get on the erg and still do a great piece. I can see the training leading me where I need to go. A lot is mental - basically, all of it is. If you are not in a good mental state of mind, you need to get there. The physical comes with training, the mental stuff you are constantly working on.
Holly: I taught you some of this before college? What specifically did I help you with that you have been able to take to college?
Abi: Working with you was the first place that I started to understand and then train the mental game. I still have the Word Cloud that my Dev teammates made to describe me- it's above my desk. I still have the letter you wrote me Coach Holly and when I am having a rough day, I still ask myself what you taught us, "What can you do TODAY to get where you want to be?" I also kept one of the self-reflections that we did at camp, the Personal Recommendation Letter because it reminds me where I have come from and how much I have already done. I have kept my writings from camp and sometimes I will read them when I need encouragement or when I need to feel part of home. Back then, I never would have thought I would be rowing at Ohio State. No way could I have done it. And here I am, doing it.
Holly: Tell me what I taught you about mental toughness.
Abi: You taught me how to be mentally tough. And that if you aren't mentally tough, you aren't going to make it. When I was at RSR we would piece every morning and there were mornings there where I thought "I just don't want to seatrace today" but you had to get it done. And this is how I think of practice now. It will make you faster and better and put your team in a place where you are in contention for championships. You are actively doing things that push you out of your comfort zone and I had not done that before working with you.
Holly: So you had never put yourself in the fire over and over and over again?
Abi: No, never. It introduced me to what it would take to be an elite athlete and the importance of being mentally tough.
Holly: What's the advice you would give current high school rowers?
Abi: The erg is your friend. Don't be afraid of it. Before working with Coach Holly I was so afraid and now I just sit down and say "we're going to do this" and I do it. And to be a good teammate. They will have your back when you think you can't, but you can. Then set a goal and do the work. You have to do the work. Especially the work that you don't want to do when you have bad days. Keep doing what you're doing - just keep training because hard work pays off. Do the pieces you don't want to do. The training will pay off - it did for me.
Keep on keepin' on Abi! We are all proud of you!