Women’s mixed 8+: Jayne Goodwin, Ranita Ram, Cecilia Guerrero, Megan Devore, Emily Seiersen, Diana Mejia, Kristy Yeung, Chloe Volz and Aimee Ramos
Photo by Sean Mccrea
By Chamille Mendoza
On the morning of October 4th, 2015 I participated in my first-ever crew race. The morning brought ominous weather that had the entire team on edge. High winds and pouring rain doesn’t always make for the best rowing conditions. Thankfully, as soon as we were on the water, the rain subsided and the wind had mellowed out.
It was an honor to be in the stroke seat of the Women’s Novice 8+, but I placed an incredible amount of pressure on myself knowing that the entire boat would be following my pace. With an all novice boat (excluding our excellent and experienced cox, Megan), you could feel the nerves radiating through us.
Warming up was a little shaky, so that didn’t really help my anxiety. But in a blink of an eye, we began to make our way down Marine Stadium at full pressure. Then all of a sudden, not even 1000 meters down, I hear an unfamiliar sound. My seat refused to slide. Horrified, I informed the cox and the stern pair dropped out while I attempted to place my seat back on the tracks while holding on to my oar. The minute I spent trying to fix my seat felt like hours, and I was conscious that three-quarters of my team was pulling more weight than they should have to. I could see the other boats passing us and one of the men’s boats cheering us on. Finally I was gliding once more and getting back into the rhythm.
To make up for my down time, I pushed hard. Each time I heard a teammate give a struggling breath, I pushed even harder. I felt as if I owed my team everything. Although the weather conditions were different from what we were use to, the motions were the same and that’s what I tried to concentrate on. We were almost down to the last 1500 meters, and once again…pop! My seat wasn’t moving again. I was able to recover a lot faster this time, but I was extremely frustrated with myself for it. Knowing we were so close to the end, I decided to focus on what I could control in that moment forward. Under the bridge and a few power strokes down, we had just completed our first regatta.
At the earliest opportunity, I apologized to my pair and to my team. I felt as if I left them down. But to my surprise, everyone was in a state of euphoria. They all reassured me that it was not a big deal and that we were all new; bound to make mistakes. Everyone was so happy, cheerful and supportive.
I have played many sports before, but there is no team sport quite like rowing. In volleyball and basketball, if you’re having an “off day,” the coach has the option to take you out in the middle of game and bench you. But in rowing, it’s all or nothing. We start the race together and end the race together, one way or another. There’s no rest time or substitutions, all you can do is give everything you have for the team. Now, after my first race, I do understand magnitude of it all. This sport, this team, is like no other. Row Beach!