While the new freshmen have yet to adapt to the life at Wesleyan, their orientation leader Olivia Pearson ’19 has almost finished her first week of training back with women’s crew. The Atlanta native had a different junior year from most of her friends. In order for a more in-depth study in Spanish, she went aboard for a year-long exchange program in Chile, while watching her teammates continue to row, including team captain Emma Porrazzo ’19. Their experiences, however, do share some similarities. While they both rowed in high school, their recruitment wasn’t the stuff of legend. No Internet buzz. No big welcome parties. No Sports Illustrated stories. But they did enjoy their own unique experiences as they kept trusting the process and being patient. Amid the chaos of Drop/Add, The Argus had a chance to speak with the two rowers to hear about their experiences, expectations and much more.
Like many other senior athletes, Pearson still couldn’t help but lament how her year abroad went so fast, but she is also extremely excited for the return and said that she relishes a challenge. Her piece of advice for the freshman is to enjoy the ride and compete to the best of your ability every single day.
When asked about how they are feeling about the upcoming season, both Pearson and Porrazzo expressed their excitement in meeting with their old friends and new faces. Pearson also spoke about her appreciation for what Head Coach Pat Tynan’s has done in the past few years.
“Crew team has always been the place of an empowering group of women,” said Pearson. “So I’m sure it will be the same this year. Pat has put an enormous effort in in building the team’s atmosphere and I’ve never came to realize how important it is until now. I had even started missing him when I was away. I am also excited to meet our new assistant coach.”
On the matter of being a senior captain, Porrazzo explained her gratitude to her teammates and staff. She explained that it is the energy in the dressing room which drives her forward and makes her uphold a commitment to other teammates whom she cares about deeply.
According to many, one of the things that contributes to the crew team experience is the opportunity to travel to a variety of sites to compete. Pearson picked the Head of the Charles River Regatta in fall 2016 (in which the Cardinals placed first) as her favorite and said that it was one of the proudest moments in her career.
Moreover, Olivia also talked about how her study-abroad experience impacts her rowing career. Much to our surprise, she admitted that the cultural difference was so huge that she already started to feel like she needs to readjust herself to living in the States again.
“Honestly I didn’t come out with the same level of fitness as everybody else on the team does,” she said. “Although Pat did give me a training plan and I did some of it, but I didn’t row much. Personally, it was hard for me to do a lot of stuff without the team or without another person because it was both mentally and physically challenging. Chile was an amazing country, but there’s no competitive collegiate league, so I had to attend a rowing club.”
With the crew season approaching in late September, the returning seniors are spending time preparing for not only the season, but also the personal goals ahead of them. Both Pearson and Porrazzo have a few items to check off their college bucket lists this year, such as maintaining their high GPAs and visiting Usdan more often. Although seemingly lofty, their goals are a short order compared to what they achieved as proud members of the student-athlete community.
Following last year’s impressive record, the team are looking forward to a successful fall campaign as they head back to the heated New England water. In about three weeks, the Cardinals will be traveling to Hartford for the annual Riverfront Regatta, where a clash between the Little Three rivals will take place. Then, on the weekend of Sept. 20-21, Pearson and her teammates will return to the Head of the Charles Regatta, as they seek to beat last year’s second-place finish and aim for the title.
Henry Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.