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Utilizing Our Losses to Make Gains


Men’s varsity team

Photo by AC Chacon


By Joshuah Gagan

Varsity Rower

Going back home to Northern California for the summer was bitter. I knew that our team worked hard –not just for school and, for some, our jobs, but for our performance. The men’s team lost almost every race last year. It was hard think about, and I couldn’t accept it – even though my parents told me it was okay. I spent each and every day thinking that I could have done more. I could have been more attentive at practice; I could have rowed a few more powerful strokes; I could have been more committed.

See, our thoughts are more vivid because we are all thinkers with high ambitions. We dream that we can be the best and assure ourselves that, in time, we will win. The reality of it is that our thoughts can’t come to life unless we act. We are capable of doing something, but we are not so ambitious to do so. These thoughts sit in our heads as if they are trapped, and we remember them like a lost cause. I thought about this very hard. I knew that I had given my all, but as a person, “I could have” has to be replaced with “I can.” That is a commitment I told myself I had to stick to.

This summer, I didn’t go to any parties or any road trips. I didn’t eat thick burgers or drink smoothies at the lake. Instead, I dedicated my time and effort to make myself a better rower. I got a job to help me pay for my gym membership, my rowing expenses and my nutrition. I got up each morning to my alarm that sent me on my drive to the gym or my work. I worked on each muscle group just so I could be capable of pulling the oar again. I pushed the flywheel on the erg at the best effort, even though my erg was broken. And most importantly, I kept thinking about making my ambition and not letting it sit in a prison inside my head.

Each day I got better and better. Coming back for this season, I am anticipating the best and the worst. But some may say I am not capable. I am a biomedical engineering student and a BUILD research intern, both demanding the same amount of commitment and dedication. I’m not going to let them get in the way, and likewise, I won’t let rowing get in their ways. I have to balance my time, make sure I am giving my absolute all for each one. I’ve seen it done before from rowers on the team and from rowers outside of the team like Joe Rantz. And I do believe that anyone on the team is capable of doing the same.

This time, we can’t go home shirtless and with our heads down. This time, we can’t deny the challenges we face every day. This time, we can’t say no. This time, we will exit this season proud and confident for the next. We are going to make changes where changes weren’t possible. We are undeniable.