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My Definition of Determination


Photo by Jonathan Flietstra

Since practices are held from 5:30a.m. to 7:30a.m., rowers can usually determine practice is almost over when the sun comes up.


By Gregory Yotsov

Varsity Rower

It’s Monday morning when I wake up to my alarm screaming as the clock strikes 4a.m. I roll over in bed and look out my window to see nothing but darkness and a star-filled sky — or as many stars as you can see in LA County — while my mind and body beg to go back to sleep.

As I think about closing my eyes again, I realize that my teammates are all starting to wake up and get ready for practice as well. So, I drag myself out of bed, grab my things and drive down to the boathouse to be welcomed by my teammates, who are also wearing their sleep-deprived faces.

Around this time I usually ask why I do this to myself, but before I can think of an answer I am putting our boat in the water, strapping in, grabbing my oar, and getting ready to sweat.

However, by the time we push off the dock and I take my first stroke I am instantly awake and remember why I love this sport. Of course, competing and winning races serves as motivation to put in the amount of hard work that my team does on a daily basis, but I see each individual stroke I take at practice as an opportunity to personally push myself to get better, faster, and stronger; and the results I have seen in myself encourage me to push (or pull, in this case) that much harder.

And if that isn’t motivation enough, all I have to do is look at the face of the person sitting in front or behind me in the boat to ensure myself that I’m not the only one suffering, and that I am letting my teammates down, unless I am at least matching that same level of effort they are putting in.

Although the feeling of being sweaty, sore and exhausted by the time we finally come in to dock an hour and a half later is often described as miserable, after a warm shower and a fresh change of clothes, it is one of the best feelings I have experienced due to the fact that I have started my day and accomplished something by the time most people are even awake.

Topping this all off with hanging out and grabbing breakfast with my teammates (some of the best people I know) before having to go to class, I would say is a pretty great start to a productive day – only to be repeated again tomorrow.

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From bow: Ryan Woolner, Trevor Peach, Tyler Miguel, Brad McCormick, Gregory Yotsov, Jacob Bledsoe, Patrick Tilley, Jake Skoll and coxswain Eric Oates (not pictured)

Click the link below to view the men’s varsity eight practicing around Marine Stadium! Video taken by Men’s Varsity Coach Robert Edwards.

Varsity 8