Fully embodied. Fully connected. What’s it feel like? Perfectly flat water on a row to the bridge. The first burst of sunshine after a long winter. Balancing in a handstand. The sound of an eight in perfect timing. PRing a 2k. The end of a run. It feels like vulnerability. Making bold choices. Taking up space. Pushing past my comfort zone. It feels like all the hard moments have met, and they’re friends now.
I remember walking into the boathouse for the first time, feeling somewhere between terrified and excited. That practice, Marquel put me in a single that she trademarked as unflippable. I grabbed only one oar, and embarrassed myself in more than a few ways, and I definitely ended up in the water that day. For a moment I was embarrassed. For a moment I wanted to quit. The moment passed: confidence filled the space.
People ask me all the time why I started rowing. Very rarely do I come back with something more witty than I don’t know. Truth is, it was just something I got pulled to do. To say I was sold on giving rowing a try that day in a single would be a lie. Really, I got sold on the feeling that I was wanted in the boathouse. I don’t remember what my coaches or teammates said that day, but I do remember how it felt to feel like I belonged.
How could anyone say no to that?
So no, I can’t tell you why I started, but I can definitely tell you why I stayed.
I stayed because of this team. Because it made me feel like I belonged that first day, and everyday since. Because everyday at the boathouse I find myself laughing over one thing or another. I stayed for the fun days, and the hard ones; the 2k tests, and the hill runs; the teammates and the friends. I’ve been playing sports my whole life, but none of them made me feel the way rowing does. From my teammates to my coaches, Renton is an amazing place. I am lucky to call myself a part of it.
I know that it sounds crazy to say that more of my personality was formed in the last 18 months rather than years, but being a rower truly changed my life. A teacher who had me last year said that I look like I grew, she clarified by saying I looked more mature. She’s right, I have. I grew into an athlete. I grew to be less of a perfectionist and to be more bold. More accurately, I got coached. I got coached into a place where I was comfortable enough in myself that I could press into my fears. I’m not bold because I’m a rower: I’m bold because I’m a Renton rower.
I almost don’t recognize who I’ve become since becoming a rower. I know it sounds silly to say, but I mean it. I look different, I act different, I even think I talk different. I decided that wearing yellow crocs in public was somehow okay. Unlike the lost teenager who wandered into a boathouse with a rebellious attitude and shaky values, rowing showed me the path that I wanted to take in this world: to college and varsity athletics, all while giving me the mental strength to know I can accomplish anything. The simple title of rower speaks volumes to who I am as a person, and on the days when I feel lost, it’s a grounding constant in my life. I walked into a boathouse as one person and I will be leaving as another: rowing for renton will always be a part of my history, and for that I will always be thankful.
As a community boathouse, Renton strives to give every rower who joins the team an experience as positive as mine. This year, I would encourage you to think of attending Evening on the Docks or contributing to our fundraising goal of $50,000 as more than new boats or a trailer, but rather what sitting in those boats can do for a junior rower.
Please consider joining us for the 5th Annual Evening on the Docks at Renton Rowing Center on Saturday, July 27th. Reserve your seats today!