LAWRENCE (KSNT) – The Jayhawk rowing roster is full of athletes from all over the world with all types of rowing backgrounds.
“There’s a lot of growth wherever you look, whether they’ve come in with experience or whether they’ve taken their first strokes as a freshman here as a Jayhawk,” head coach Carrie Cook-Callen said.
KU rowing isn’t just finding the best rowers to join the team, it’s making the best rowers for the team.
“Honestly, I had never really heard of rowing,” junior Hannah Black said.
Coaches recruit pure athletes. Regardless of their rowing background, they know they can turn good athletes into rowers.
“What really helps make somebody successful is who they are, their character and their work ethic,” Cook-Callen said, who is a KU rowing alumna.
For a lot of the women on the team, it’s a chance to extend their athletic careers.
“I was recruited to row [in high school], but I was on a scholarship to play volleyball somewhere else,” Black said. “Unfortunately, I had some medical issues going on and I decided to stop volleyball, was a student for a few years, realized I missed athletics and I reached out to KU rowing, and they took another chance on me.”
Learning a new sport, a Division I sport, while college is daunting.
“It was definitely really hard to start out with,” junior Laura Teska said. “Especially, something about me is that I don’t really do things I’m not good at. So, at the start it was really mentally challenging for me to just keep pushing and learning.”
It’s especially hard for a sport that requires these women to eat every hour during training.
“It’s the most physically demanding and mentally demanding,” Black said.
Coaches encourage their new athletes through this scary, new process.
“Sometimes you just have to remind them, ‘OK, you’ve been an athlete for a really long time. We’re just teaching you a new way to be athletic. A new movement pattern,'” Cook-Callen said.
KU’s boathouse being less than 10 minutes from campus makes training easier.
“It’s so peaceful, and it’s a sport where you’re pushing your body to some of the furthest levels it’s ever been, but at the same time you have nature around you,” sophomore Lindsey True said. “It’s very calm. You have your teammates there encouraging you.”
Plus, they all fall in love with the sport, despite all the blisters they get.
“It’s definitely something you have to train your mind to overcome,” True said.
KU rowing has an exhibition against the university’s club team on Sept. 23. Its first home race is Nov. 4 for the Jayhawk Jamboree.
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