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Rowing Spotlight

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.

Pause at the Release: Let's Talk about Socks!

I am rarely a superstitious person. With regard to rowing and racing, I will usually be the first to say that hope is a terrible race plan, we make our own luck, etc....except when it comes to socks. Sock choice is a many-faceted and a highly controversial topic within the world of rowing--everyone has a slightly different preference that they swear by, and I'm no different. In the fall of 9th grade, I came to the realization that I could not race without my lucky socks, which were brand new with red and blue stripes. I don't even remember what made me realize they were lucky, but from that moment on I wore them for every erg test, seat race, and regatta. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had lost one of them (RIP lucky sock) and the other one was being held together by threads at the heel, but it was still critical to my success--as long as I layered another sock under it to protect my foot. Many women on our team have similar stories. It's not as weird as it sounds at first--having a "sock routine" is just another way to psychologically prepare yourself for a tough race, and mental preparation can be just as important a factor as physical training.

Sock choice informs the experience of rowing in many ways besides adding luck. In the boat, wearing heftier socks is ideal, as the foot stretchers are usually a couple sizes too big for my feet. The bigger the socks, the tighter the shoes feel! Additionally, my sock drawer now contains roughly 50% of socks with holes in the heel, from rowing without shoes on the RowPerfect. The RowPerfect forces you to stabilize yourself, especially when you aren't wearing shoes, and the micro-adjustments of your heels (during, say, a 60 minute piece) slowly and maddeningly rubs away the fabric until it's gone. I now have a pile of "RowPerfect socks" and "good socks."

Coxswains also have a close relationship with their socks. Mostly, that relationship involves layering up on cold mornings so they don't freeze their toes off in the boat. Our freshman coxswain, Eva Trabucco, only wears socks without shoes when she races, because shoes are heavy and she wants to reduce the amount of weight the rowers pull down the course. Smart strategizing, Eva!

No matter how tempting it is to overthink our sock wants and needs, I've come to terms with the fact that success in rowing is mostly unrelated to socks and the luck they bring. At USRowing Youth Nationals last June, I brought my lucky sock to the racecourse for the semi-final and at one point put it inside a black NorthFace backpack that, in hindsight, must not have belonged to me. Right before we were about to launch for arguably the most important race of the season, I could not find my lucky sock anywhere. Finally we were forced to launch and race without it, and ended up qualifying for the grand final the next day. So there you have it: in my first high school race without my token of luck, my boat was highly successful and I know that it was training and dedication that made that happen--not a sock.

This season, Tulsa Rowing has been training harder than ever and we're speedy gals, but even speedy gals sometimes have a need for lucky footwear...so when you see us on the racecourse, busy making our own luck and beating our competition, be sure to glance at our feet.

- Madeline Lyons, Freshman

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Let's Talk about Socks!

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Contact Natasha Ostopovich at natasha-ostopovich@utulsa.edu