Rowing Along

L: What are you doing out here? Do you come here often?

Uh, yeah! Sometimes. I mean, I don’t know. I like it, just ‘cause I’m a history major, so I came here for this. So …

 

L: This is where it happens.

Yeah, basically. I do a lot of colonial history. I enjoy a lot of colonial history. So I come out here to read, do work when … My stats class actually got canceled, so that’s why I’m here.

 

L: Nice. Why do you have to take a stats class if you’re a history major?

Math requirement. To graduate.

 

L: Dang, hate those things. What are you reading? What’s your textbook for?

I’m taking a COLL 100 on mapping the world and images, basically. Like cartography and stuff. So, I don’t know. I think it’s fitting that this is where Jefferson would have walked around. He is kinda the reason why I took the map class.

 

L: What do you like about Thomas Jefferson?

Oh, he’s fascinating. He’s absolutely brilliant. I was lucky enough to take a class last semester all about him. It was really, really great. So, I don’t know. He’s an enigma. He’s kinda controversial right now, but there are so many things that he’s known for that he did. So many places that he’s mentioned and recognized for his brilliance that it’s hard not to be impressed by him.

 

E: In your life, what would you want to be recognized by?

Within my lifetime, I would like to have a book in, like, the gift shops of Monticello, Montpelier … like something that’s well enough known to be put in, like … it sounds kind of corny, but like, the gift shops of these fantastic places that I enjoy visiting and getting books from.

 

L: So did you always know that you wanted to go to William and Mary because of your fascination with colonial history?

Well, I kinda locked on immediately into my college process. ‘Cause my old rowing coach went here and was like, “Hey, you should check it out. This is cool.” She rowed there and so my sophomore year and junior year I came up here and was like, “Yup. This is where I want to be.” So then I spent the next two years working to get here.

 

E: So was that just in the back of your mind all throughout high school? Were you pretty set on knowing you’d be here?

My first two years I had no idea where I wanted to go. Like at all. Ever. And then once I kinda locked … I only … I’m from South Carolina and I only look at schools in Virginia. I applied to UVA. I applied to Mary Washington. I applied here. Only applied to schools in Virginia because that’s the history I want to learn.

 

L: Interesting. Because I’m from Virginia, and I’m always like, “Why do people want to go to Virginia from cool places? But yeah, that’s kinda where this stuff happens. Have you, like, been down to Jamestown and stuff?

Yeah, I went to Jamestown once, like, ten years ago. But in my Williamsburg and the Revolutionary class I’m in right now we’re talking about Jamestown and how important it is and the origins and stuff. So, I’d like to go back at some point.

We had a crew party at Jamestown beach, so that’s the closest I’ve ever been.

 

L: Hey that’s good. That’s good enough.

E: So what else are you passionate about, other than history?

History and rowing are pretty much what I do. I’ve been rowing for … I guess this is my fifth year. So I rowed all through high school and I’m on the varsity women’s team here.

 

E: Good for you. That’s amazing. The rowing team just blows me away because whenever I hear about what you all have to do … I cannot get up that early. I cannot work that hard and that long.

L: Yeah, when I was a freshman, I was like, “I want to be on the rowing team. Oh my God, here we go.” And I went to one interest meeting. I was like, “I am not cut out for this.” ‘Cause there was that special machine in the Rec Center where you just do reps and reps and reps.

 

What’s your favorite thing about rowing, then, do you think?

Well, there’s a feeling when you’re on the water and you just everything goes right. And you hear the oars clicking and everyone’s in sync and everyone, like, has the same goal in mind. And it just feels like you’re flying ‘cause you’re going fast, the wind is in your face, you’re just watching yourself move. You’re like “Oh my God, like, I am moving this thing … really fast.” And when you’re on the erg it doesn’t quite feel that way ‘cause you’re sitting still and you’re just kinda suffering, but when you’re on the water, you really know why you’re doing it.

 

E: It’s something that you can’t understand unless you do it. That sort of thing.

Yeah, I mean in the winter we are just inside the entire time because it’s cold outside, and you know, the water’s wet and you get really cold if you get wet. So we’re inside training for the spring season, which is, like, sprints. And so you put yourself through a lot in the winter and once you get back on the water in the spring, you’re like, “Oh. Yeah. This is why. This is 100% why I’m doing this.”

 

L: Is it a pretty tight-knit group? Do you have to … actually, we were just talking to people in this Improv group and they were saying that you need to be really tight in order to be funny and have good shows. Do you think the same can be said for rowing, expect you have to be in sync?

I mean, yeah! You don’t always have to be in a lock together, but the best practices come when you do. And the best practices come when you’re working hard to support the other girls around you. Like, it’s a team sport, but it’s also an individual sport. Like you’re in your own head the entire time — which is my problem — but there’s also the girl in front of you who’s working super hard, the girl behind you working super hard, so you do it for them, mostly. So, I’d say we’re pretty close. I think they’re a great group of girls and I’m really glad I found the team.

 

E: That’s awesome. And are you going to continue that after … I know you’re just starting out, but, after your college experience?

Oh, definitely. There are masters programs all around the country.

 

Emily and Lyla 03b

E: I don’t know if you’ll ever get your fill of Virginia, ‘cause there’s so much, but once you get close to your fill of Virginia, do you have another place that you want to go and be?

D.C. Which is like this close. I’d love to work at the Library of Congress if I could. But that’s like, far, far off. 10 years. 15 years.

 

L: Okay, I’m wondering what did you mean when you said, “That was my problem. Being in my own head”?

Oh, I psych myself out. I’m such a mental, cerebral, person that, like, I count the number of strokes that there is in a two thousand meter piece. Like, which, I don’t know, good and bad. I’m constantly in my own head, like, “You can do this. No, I can’t. You can do this. No, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” So I have to get out of that. You have to break through the wall and it’s something I’m still working on. It’s been five years and I’m still working on it.

 

E: But it speaks to how much you love the sport and how much it means to you, that you go through it. So that’s cool, too. Do you find a lot of people here share your passion for history? I mean, I know it’s a history school, but are you able to, like, relate?

Oh, yeah. I took this class last semester called, “Virginia and the Age of the Revolution,” and every Friday we spent all day traveling around the state. There were nine of us and two professors, and we all just loaded up in a van and drove around all these cool places and talked about history over lunch, and, like … The very first class — over pizza — we compared Donald Trump to Lord Botetourt whose statue is in front of Wren. So, like, modern politics meets colonial history, meets just, like, a bunch of cool people who love it just as much as you do.

 

L: What was your favorite place to visit, do you think?

Me being a TJ fan, like, the immediate answer would be Monticello, but, like, there’s this place in Richmond called the Wikem House that was just the most stunning house. He defended Aaron Burr during his treason trial. And it’s just this neoclassical, absolutely stunning mansion in the middle of Richmond.

 

E: I love hearing you talk about this in such a cool way. I always just think it’s really important for people to, like, have the feeling of happiness and exuding that through their words.

L: Yeah, passion is a beautiful thing when it’s conveyed through what someone is saying.

E: What do you want to get out of your experience here at William & Mary? Or just college, in general?

I don’t know. I mean I’d like to come out a competent historian. Like, not, of course, an actual historian yet, but someone who loves it, wants to continue it, has experience, and, you know, feels comfortable with the history.

 

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