Photo by Stefano Balbusso
By Penelope Gallardo
Summer is the time most people use to unwind and relax. While this was somewhat the case for me, it didn’t make up my entire summer.
I took almost a month off of doing any kind of exercise. After the passing of one of my closest cousins, I longed to be with my family. I had been training and gone for so long that the need was even greater to rest.
Later on, I began working as an assistant coach for my former high school rowing team, RowLA. I worked with rowers on the team from ages 14-18, and I also participated in a series of recruiting camps. Therefore, technically, since July, I resumed training and recruiting for the fall season.
Even though rowing and my family were the most prominent themes of my summer, this summer was also one of the most challenging. The decision to get back into rowing didn’t happen overnight, and my friends had a huge impact on me. I was here at home while my most of friends were out, working to accomplish their dreams.
I had a friend who was selected to play water polo for Greece’s women’s national team at the Word Championships in Kazan, Russia. She’s a rising senior at Long Beach State. Another one of my friends was drafted into Major League Baseball after 16 years of incredible baseball dedication. He was also a rising senior in college. A former rowing teammate of mine spent most of her summer working for a hospital in Guatemala pursuing an internship in the medical field. She is a rising junior in college. And lastly, one of my former classmates in high school was selected to represent the Swiss National team for lacrosse. He is also a rising junior in college.
Besides the fact that these people are amazing and seek to pursue their dreams, I had the opportunity to get to know these people. I watched them compete, I ate with them, laughed with them, and I learned a lot from each one. Their hunger to succeed really motivated me then, and now, especially, to really step up this year and own it.
As an uprising junior I realized I had been officially rowing for six years. Also, working as an assistant coach for rowing gave me more perspective to sport I already love.
In addition, I am the new vice president for the women’s rowing team at Long Beach State, which was a responsibility I chose to accept. This being said, it’s now my turn to set an example for myself, for my teammates and whoever else is inspired by my efforts.
I don’t know where else rowing will take me, but I know how far it has taken me up to this day. I’m determined to stay focused on the things I can control, staying committed and performing to the best of my ability–thinking of every piece by each stroke individually. This season, I’m on a mission to find my limits and go beyond them.