Since returning home, many people have asked what has been my favorite part of the US. Are there really sorority houses? Football games? Super sized everything? Without a doubt, every conversation comes back to rowing – training, travelling, racing and of course the rowing family that has become my home away from home.
Freshman year has flown by, a race of sorts. Starting with the nerves of settling into a new environment before the starting sequence that was orientation week, I found myself thrown into the deep end both academically and physically. I slowly adjusted to a training schedule that had more time on the erg in one week than my high school team saw in an entire season.
For me, there is always a point during the middle of a race where a voice starts to doubt my capabilities of finishing at the pace initially set. This year, that point came after Miami. Returning to snowy days (Duke rarely gets snow they said!) and grim Tuesday mornings, the final sprint seemed just too far away. At this time, I came to realize what Al later put perfectly into words at the banquet – this sport is too hard to do for yourself, you have to do it for those around you.
As student-athletes, we never slow down and while each day often seemed like a marathon, ultimately the spring semester took off as we ventured to far away lands of endless Chipotle, soup and paw prints. The inevitable sprint had finally approached; the art of tapering became the light at the end of the tunnel.
The sprint of the race is only rewarding if you’ve done the hard yards and those bleak days were what I came back to when that voice returned, only now it was sandwiched between Clemson and Syracuse. My freshman year has been a whirlwind of fantastic moments, from the perfectly sweaty hug at the end of a timed golf course run to dodging coconuts during race pieces in Miami. Everyday has brought a new challenge that I hope has moved me forward as a rower and a teammate.
What a day? What a year!
- Phoebe Donovan
Class of 2017