Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Don't Think She Heard Me

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment in public? Have you tried to cover it up as best as you could but no matter what you still look like an idiot? For example, tripping forward in public and while you are on the ground do push ups to cover your trip. Even though doing the push ups probably makes you more of an idiot then tripping. Regardless what happens and what you do to try to cover it up, we all fail miserably.

I recall of a time like this at a regatta. It was lunch time and all crews take an hour to refuel and rest. I’m standing in a small group of people talking as my coach volunteers me to retrieve oars for one of our boat going out. I was walking with one of the girls from my crew, a long haired blond and a close friend of mine. Even though the docks are not very far away it takes some time to get though the boats walking by in line. We had a conversation about our all time rivals, the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club or just CJRC. This crew was the best and always had a step above us. We all had theories joking on why they are so good, some ranging from a motor on their boats to even having their team genetically cloned as hard core athletes. Getting back to the story, a boat was crossing in front of us and I continued and ducked under the boat. Completely oblivious of the fact that my friend stopped for the boat, I continued my conversation with a long haired blond that happened to slide on in where my friend was. I continued to walk with my new friend talking about CJRC. Getting to the end of my conversation I said: “yea I guarantee CJRC has a cloning lab under their boat house where they clone their rowers.” Waiting for a “yea” or “I know”, instead I heard with a very faint, quivered, almost scared voice “oh, ohh… ok.” I look to my left to see a CJRC rower with long blond hair take a very sharp 90 degree turn away from me waiting for me to pass. She starts to scurry away as I yell “sorry wrong person,” there was no way she heard me though. I had a dumbfounded feeling and stopped where I was looking around making sure no one else witnessed my embarrassing moment, but one was enough. My real friend runs up to me and says “sorry I got caught up at that last boat.” I didn’t tell her what happened but I replied “let’s get moving.”

Even though I will probably never see that girl again, I can’t seem to stop wondering what see was thinking, along with that what see told her other teammates. It’s a little uncomfortable to think that some where out there I am labeled as "The Creepy Rower From Westerville Crew."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do It For The Love

People who have done a team sport know that it takes effort and teamwork; however, time commitment is the most important factor. You have to be willing to give up a portion of you time, your life if you will, to do certain sports. Sports teach you personal responsibility to your team but most of all to yourself. It is a must to keep yourself first. This is why I chose to quit crew when I got to college. Knowing the work load that I would be enduring my freshman year, I chose my career first.

This is similar to S L Kim and her blog Springtime Thoughts. She is in the same situation as I am. She used to be on a Crew team before she went to college. She expresses how the sport influenced her through descriptive writing. Though she quit the sport she loved and concentrated on school. As you read her blog she begins to question why people in college do sports knowing that they will be busy with school. Surprising coming from someone who understands how it is like to love a sport, don’t you think? She mentions how she asked someone “why don’t you just quit.” This upset me because this is being kind of hypocritical.

People in college today seem to be doing sports for two different reasons. Reason one, because they are on scholarship. Reason two, they enjoy doing the sport. I feel that a sport should be played because you enjoy participating in it. I feel that you get the most out of it this way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Late Start

When teenagers get to high school, they already know their groups of friends. Then there are the others who are looking for a group to slide in on. It took me about two years to finally find mine. Two years seems like a long time but it was harder for me compared to other students. Most students met their friends though school sports and clubs, which many of them have been doing since middle school. It seemed that they already had their friends and it would be difficult for anyone else to feel accepted. All though I didn’t feel that team sports and clubs were the only way to find new friends, they certainly helped.

I came straight from a private to a public school after I graduated from eighth grade. This was a big leap for me because I had been at the same private school since I was in kindergarten. I didn’t really have that many friends while I was there, which was mainly the result of me going to a public high school. I decided to get away from that environment and try out a new one. Westerville North High School was the school in my district and the biggest one too. Getting dropped off my first morning was very intimidating. Immediately I was taken by the crowd and forced to go with the flow. It was hard to hear any sort of announcements over the hundreds of students. Very different compared to walking single file down the hallways quietly. The one thing I felt that was most strange was the fact that I didn’t have to wear the same uniform everyday.

Around the end of the school year I felt like I was fitting in with the crowd. I had a group of guys that I sat with at lunch and in some classes. Even though I was accepted, I didn’t feel like I was. Rarely did I go to my friends’ house to hang out or to the movies on Friday nights like everyone else. When I finally realized this I felt like I was back to square one again, that I was back at my private school.

The middle of my sophomore year, I started to hear about the Westerville Rowing Club or Crew for short. This was just talk I overheard in the lunchroom though. I became intrigued listening to all the talk and hype about it. I wondered why haven’t I heard about this club before, it had been in Westerville for almost 10 years apparently. I began noticing Crew t-shirts and jackets worn only on select days during the year, these days being the day before a race. This sounded like a good opportunity to get involved. I just didn’t know where to start.

It was winter quarter and the first snow finally fell. I assumed that the Crew season was over, and I was too late to join until the spring. There was little lunch talk and you rarely saw any Crew t-shirts or jackets being worn. It was almost like the sport was in hibernation. I started to trail away from my group of people little by little as the quarter went by. They started to dress different from when I met them; they dressed more punk and gothic. Also our music interests started to clash. These may not be very big issues, but that’s what mattered in social groups in high school. I stated to go straight to my classes instead of meeting with people to socialize.

One particular morning a blue and white flyer hanging up on the wall across from where I sit grabbed my attention. “Crew Conditioning” was the title in bold lettering. It was a flyer to try to recruit new rowers. I read that there was a time and place where they practice every night in the winter. Ironically they practice in the same spot I had been sitting waiting for class to start for the past couple weeks. I ripped the flyer down and studied it carefully so I wouldn’t miss anything. It said that the workouts will be on an ergometer or rowing machine. It also said to bring a water bottle and work out clothes, pretty simple. It also said “spandex shorts are highly encouraged.” After reading that sentence I didn’t know what to expect.

I arrived at the school about 20 minutes before practice. The school was empty and quiet, very different from what I have been used to. I started walking to the location on the flyer. I started to hear loud music coming from what sounded to be a large stereo. Along with the music I heard a different, unfamiliar noise. This sounded like metal chains being zipped back and forth. I assumed those were the ergometers. Once I got to the hallway and turned the corner, there were about 150 people exercising. I was amazed to see that many of the rowers were in my classes and at lunch right next to me. I met the head coach moments later. He was a tall and lanky individual in his late forties. He rushed over with a very positive attitude and reached out to shake my hand. He shook with both hands making my arm whip up and down uncontrollably. His attitude rubbed off in a way showing that he had great pride in his club. After greeting me he brought me over with the other beginners. Once everyone seemed to be there the coach clapped his hands together and said “let’s get started.”

Everyone works in different ways. To some people, making friends is not an easy task, for others it is much easier. Personally I would call this my beginning to who I am today. This club gave me the strength and courage to become an individual. I still don’t believe that team sports and clubs are the only way to meet people and make friends; they are only the starting point for an individual. They are responsible for how we are shaped, thus making it possible for teammates to become one. Though finding your desired group is not an easy task but it is certainly worth the hard work in the end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Puke For Pizza

Most coaches for any sport right before a big challenge would most likely give a small pep talk. Not our coach, he knew better then to bore us with a speech. He probably thought that it would bore us so bad we would be tired before the race. He wasn’t superstitious but he believed that every little thing contributes is some way. He would come up to us and start telling rowing stories from his day. My favorite one had to be when during a race, on his stroke a fish lifted out of the water, smacked his oar, and he launched it into the coxswains face. He had a million of them. I think that’s why he was different from any other coach.
He would motivate us in any way he could. The one phrase he said that I will never forget had to be “Puke for Pizza.” I won’t go into details but I’m sure you could figure it out. He knew what we liked and it was pizza. We would laugh at how he would try to pull the same routine with us on the women. His stories never really hit home on them than with us. They were motivated, but more disgusted judging by the look on their faces.
The greatest thing about my coach was that he connected with us all in one way or another. His humor is what got us through the day and through our races. All he wanted was us to try our hardest, win or lose.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Why A Cult?

What might a cult be? There are many different definitions to the term. My personal definition of the word would be a group or organization on which stands out from society in its own way. If you were apart of the Westerville Rowing Club then you might know what I mean by this. To others it’s difficult to understand. Our little community was known to stand out from other clubs and sports. Personally to this day I really don’t understand fully why people considered our club to be a “cult”. Was it maybe our apparel? I mean to most people spandex are not the manliest thing to wear, but what about wrestlers? They have to physically touch each other when competing, we don’t. Was it mainly our slang that only Crew members could understand, but all teams have their inside jokes. Could it be that our club was coed? Well just because our men and women practiced at the same time doesn’t mean much to me. I really can’t think of much reason why. Perhaps it was the fact that we got new members weekly even though it is in the middle of the season? I don’t know I give up.
Since I have been in the club it seems that there was always attention brought to our club, positive and negative. No matter how small it is it seems to get blown out of proportion or misunderstood. Yea I will admit there have been some pretty bad times that brought negative attention to us, but no one is perfect, no team as a perfect roster. Though I will never understand exactly why we were portrayed the way we were; I ran out of ideas. I’m not quiet sure why we were considered a cult, and really I don’t care. All I have to say is that it was the best cult I have ever been in.