Pause at the Release: A Sit Down with the Seniors
Feb. 19, 2013
Tulsa, Okla. - Pause at the Release is our periodic feature in which we highlight the perspective of one of our student-athletes. In these articles, the athletes share their personal experiences as part of the Golden Hurricane team with our wonderful supporters and community members. Here, you'll find the backstage story on TU Women's Rowing, told through the eyes of the athletes themselves. Check back often to see updates from more of your favorite rowers and coxswains.
What does this last season and semester mean to you?
As a senior, starting our last season and spring semester makes you look back on how far we have all come. The team has grown tremendously since we were freshman and it's hard to believe that four years have already gone by. It feels like just yesterday when Kevin told us "you have 48 months as a student-athlete." You never believe how quickly it flies by until you are in our shoes looking at your last couple of months. To me, this season is all about cherishing the little things; enjoying the practices on the water, the long bus trips, and the race days when all we want to do is make Tulsa proud. We won't be able to get those things back and I just want to have fun and do my best to push this team a little closer to our ultimate goal; going to the NCAA championships.
It's still hard to believe I'm about to begin my last season as a Golden Hurricane. It's amazing to think about all the changes over the past four years and how much this team has developed. From the inauguration of Conference USA our freshman year, to winning the first Conference medal my sophomore year, to now having the opportunity to race for an automatic bid to NCAA's, it's truly been a journey. Four years ago I signed a Letter-of-Intent to row at Tulsa, over a thousand miles away from my home in New Jersey, having no idea just how much this place would mean to me. Tulsa has become my home and my teammates, my family. It's easy to say I won't miss the work, or the time, or the sweat, the pain and the tears. But in my 8 years of rowing, one thing this sport has never been is easy. Even through the hardest of the days, this senior class has made every minute worth it. I can't wait to race out our final season together and leave this team with the brightest of futures.
How have you grown since your senior year of high school and your senior year off college?
I frequently talk with my family about the fact that if someone four years ago had told me that I would be rowing for an NCAA Division I team, there is absolutely no way I would have believed them. Four years ago, I was not rowing, had not been in a boat in months, and had no dreams or desires to pursue rowing. I was enrolled in a university in my hometown and was certain I would graduate from there. Looking back from where I am today, however, it is hard to imagine my life without rowing. I was introduced to the sport at the collegiate level in my first year of university, and even at that time I had no idea where rowing would take me. I am unbelievably thankful for the opportunities that have come my way, and there is little doubt in my mind that I would not be the same person I am today if I had not decided to pursue rowing. I have made lifelong friends, learned so much from my coaches and teammates, and shared many, many laughs along the way. I have been able to compete against some of the strongest Division I rowing teams, traveled to both ends of the country, and have shared both the joy of victory and the pain of defeat with my teammates. In these four years, I have grown as an athlete, but also as an individual, and while I look forward to my upcoming graduation, I know that the lessons I have learned in my time at Tulsa and in my time as a rower will be lessons I carry into the rest of my life.
In February of my senior year of high school, I was just learning about TU. I would have never pictured spending my college years in Oklahoma, but it was the greatest decision I could have ever made. Over the past 4 years I have been able to grow and really find out what I want in life and what I can contribute. From the professors and the undergraduate research opportunities, to the coaches and competitions I have had opporTUnities at TU that I wouldn't have had anywhere else. The family that I have in my teammates have supported me through moving across the country, getting two degrees, numerous competitions (wins and some losses), my wedding last May, and none of that would have been possible without first wanting to become a coxswain and row with The University of Tulsa Women's Rowing Team! A lot can happen in four years. Choosing your university is a big decision to make; you are going to need people you can count on, people you can trust, people you can go to for help or advice, and people that you can just be yourself with, and all of those are here on the TU Rowing team.
What experience at TU has meant the most to you?
Looking back over the last three and a half years I've spent at TU, I am amazed by the academic and athletic experiences I've been blessed with. The education I have received has molded and shaped me into the career woman that I always hoped I could be. The Athletic Training program at The University of Tulsa allowed me to have the unique experience of being an athletic training student and a Division I athlete at the same time, an opportunity that very few universities offer. Being a member of the rowing team has allowed me to experience a side of college that few ever see. How many people can say that they have traveled from coast to coast (Boston to San Diego) in the span of one week! One of my favorite rowing memories was racing neck and neck with Stanford in Sacramento at the Lake Natoma Invitational in 2012. But in reality, when I reflect on what has meant the most to me in my time here, it's not the places we have traveled to, or even the races we have won, but the fact that every moment was spent with a group of women that I call my teammates, my best friends and my family.
Perhaps the most meaningful non-rowing activity that I have done on campus, is being an orientation leader. I fell in love with TU the moment I stepped on campus when I came on my official visit, and by being an orientation leader I wanted to spread my love for everything TU to the freshman class. In the past three years of being an orientation leader, I have grown to love TU even more and everyone that is part of the TU community. Just being able to be part of the rowing team has been the most meaningful experience I have had in my life. I have gained countless friends, whom I consider my family. I have also grown as a person by being more confident in my abilities and being a stronger leader.
As lightweight rowers, what did the christening of the Michelle Sechser '08 mean to you?
As a lightweight rower I was honored to be apart of the Michelle Sechser '08 christening. Michelle has had such an amazing rowing career so far. Knowing Michelle and having had her as my graduate assistant was amazing. Being able to honor Michelle's accomplishments was a great experience. My hope for this year is to see that the Michelle Sechser '08 has a successful season.
The Christening of the Michelle Sechser 08' was a very special moment for not only me, but for all of my past and current team members. Michelle has made a huge impact on the rowing team here at TU and has been an inspiration to all of us. As a senior lightweight, I am so excited the lightweights will hit the racecourse in the Sechser this spring. Nothing pushes us to work harder than knowing Michelle's name is written on the very shell we are racing in. It is truly an honor to be racing in a shell named after your role model.
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