By Sarah Wizner
This past weekend was the last race for the Union Men’s and Women’s Crew teams. They both competed at the New York State Collegiate Rowing Regatta, which is held every year at Whitney Point in Binghamton.
This regatta marked the end of college rowing careers for six members of the women’s team: Ilyena Kozain ’14, Isabel McRae ’14, Caitlyn Collins ’14, Lauren Hafkemeyer ’14, Rhea Howard ’14 and Sarah Wizner ’14. The men’s team will also be graduating two members: Nick Brenn ’14 and Greg Brenn ’14.
Out of this total of eight seniors, seven have rowed all four years at Union.
Even though the two teams compete in different events and practice with different coaches, both teams have had similar experiences rowing for Union.
Over the past four years, the seniors have learned countless things about themselves and the sport of rowing.
Some of their favorite apects of rowing and probably the ones that will be missed the most are the “field trip” to the boat house each day. The sunsets on the Mohawk are easily Schenectady’s hidden gem, and the sense of unity as eight rowers become one individual stroke, propelling the boat down the course in a way that can only be described as gracefully strong.
While all of the senior rowers have become better versions of themselves since their first years, they all acknowledge that crew has played a large part in their growth.
As Nick Brenn put it in regards to personal limits, “I’ve learned how to break the wall down and keep going.” Caitlyn Collins echoed this sentiment, stating, “I am leaving as a more determined, focused and driven individual.”
Isabel McRae agreed and thought that she has “learned to appreciate difficult situations as times to improve and even surpass my own expectations.”
Crew is unlike any other team sport. As Lauren Hafkemeyer put it, “Crew is not like any sport with a star or go-to player.”
While there may be some rowers who are stronger than others, what matters most is that everyone is able to literally pull their own weight in the boat and allow the entire boat to improve as one cohesive unit.
It is this need for unity that fosters not only personal growth and success, but also growth and success as an entire team.
There is nothing quite like putting yourself through the mental and physical pain of a 2,000-meter sprint to make you appreciate all other aspects of your life. As Greg Brenn so eloquently put it, “My daily stresses seem insignificant to the feeling of daggers piercing my quads during a 2,000-meter race.”
While everyone dreads the pain and hand blisters that come with rowing, they have become part of the rowers, making them all tougher.
As the graduating seniors take their first steps into the real world in a couple of weeks, they know that they will be able to handle anything that comes their ways, partially because of the skills they developed as members of the Union Crew team.
The seniors thank their fellow rowers, coaches and Union Athletics!