I recently had the pleasure of catching up with an RSR Alumna who is currently rowing DIII. She confided in me that her time there has been hard. Although she loves the school, she has a hard time on the team. This is not the first time that I have had a tough conversation like this and as one of her former coaches and someone who cares about her welfare I listened and we brainstormed together about what she could do. I asked her what made her time there so difficult...
Athlete: I think when I got to school it was a sharp reality check that I was actually on my own. College is the real world- well, the real world before the real world. I had gone far away from home and it felt really far away from home. It wasn't until after Finals Week when I returned to school that it felt more comfortable to me, like I was coming home (at the school).
Holly: Tell me about your experience on the team?
Athlete: Our team is super small and we just had a few athletes quit so it's really hard. Bringing athletes together from different programs is harder than it looks. RSR actually prepared me a bit since we were all from different teams and you had to bring us together quickly to make ONE new team. This is the same in college since everyone comes from different high school programs. It registered quickly and I knew that it would require all of us to adapt to each other but it's hard.
Holly: What have you learned?
Athlete: To not be so afraid to represent what you believe in. It's OK to stand out in your own way. I can be who I am.
Holly: And what did you learn from RSR?
Athlete: To take risks and not be afraid to face fear and to then work to manage that fear. You can take risks and I find myself saying to myself all the time "Just DO it" and then I do it. I will ask myself all the time, "Why am I stressing over this? I've done it before and I just have to do it again. Just do it."
Holly: What's the advice you would give to high school rowers?
Athlete: If you are questioning whether you can't do something, I think you definitely can. You shouldn't be afraid to fail because at some point you will. I know I have and if I hadn't then I wouldn't approach things the same way that I do now.
Holly: I know that you are frustrated with your program - what's the advice you would high school athletes about college recruiting? Or what do you wish you had done differently?
Athlete: I didn't look closely at all the Divisions and I feel like I downgraded myself. I thought this program would be more competitive but I also didn't realized that I really LIKE the stiff competition and the demanding nature. I feel like the Coach sold me on the place - made it sound so great which it could be, but I got so caught up in things like moving away from home. I am not sure that I looked really critically at the program and I definitely didn't take the time to evaluate the bad stuff with the program.
Holly: Did you assume you couldn't handle a competitive program?
Athlete: Yes. But I definitely think I could handle it now.
This interview was hard for me because as a Coach you obviously want all of your athletes to be super happy with their program but EVERY program has growing pains and they all have great things and then not-so-great things. It is important you try your best to figure out what those are- AND it's important to remember that college coaches, especially recruiting coordinators ARE sales people. Their job is to sell you on their program. You too are a sales person by the way. You are selling YOURSELF to the coaches and the admissions department...You just have to remember that.