3-on-3 Back to School!
By USRowing Staff • September 16, 2016
In 3-on-3, our experts answer three questions and offer unique insights that have helped them and others along the way. This month, we talked to Emily Delleman (2016 junior world champion in the double sculls), Kristine O’Brien (2016 silver medalist in the senior four and University of Virginia assistant coach), and Mike Davenport (former Washington College head coach and newly appointed USRowing Chief of Educational Assets) about heading back to school and the joys of fall racing.
What is your approach to balancing rowing obligations with life outside of the boat and the boathouse?
Mike Davenport: “As a coach, I distill it down to needs and wants. For example, I would sit down with an athlete and ask what they really need to do. Those are the hard ones, the ones that come with repercussions if they aren’t there – the classes, the weekends back home, the tests. Making that division with the wants, such as seeing a speaker they really like or going to a concert, helps provide perspective on what their priorities should be when planning when to row. It’s important to have those conversations with a coach and with yourself.”
Emily Delleman: “Throughout the years, the key to balancing my rowing obligations with life outside the boathouse has definitely been strong communication and time management. I was very fortunate to have extremely understanding teachers, coaches, and leaders throughout my high school career. At Y Quad Cities, we have a rigorous schedule of two-a-day practices year-round, but when necessary, there was always an understanding that a few afternoons a week were negotiable when school makeups, participation in organizations, and help was necessary.
Each fall, I was able to be on my high school swim team, row, take classes, and actively participate in numerous organizations on top of weekend regatta traveling without feeling spread too thin and overwhelmed. For a while, I felt as though I was having to sacrifice social outings with friends and quality time with my family, however, I found that by cutting back on distractions like Netflix and social media, I had plenty of time to go to things like football games, family dinners, and team pasta parties, even during the school week.”
Kristine O’Brien: “It’s obviously very challenging to balance life outside of the boat and boathouse. I think one of the biggest things would be trying to leave a bad row on the water. That’s something I’ve learned a lot about since rowing in high school. For me, it’s really important to let it go as best I can before I head home. It’s best not to overthink things and just try to relax and be happy! It’s also a challenge to balance rowing with friends and family. You make a lot of sacrifices for rowing sometimes, but I’m lucky to have really supportive friends and family.”
How do you go about seeking advice from others, and what advice really resonated with you most recently?
Delleman: “I have an inclination to being curious almost to a fault, and much of the advice I have received comes from my ceaseless questioning of others. I’m going into my freshman year of college, and after my recent interrogation of collegiate rowers, the advice I received which resonated with me was that rowing in college will not be much more difficult than I am used to, but that there are more distractions. I was told that if I maintain the work ethic that helped me succeed in getting into college as a highly recruited athlete, then I will continue to succeed.
I was told that it can be hard when living in such close proximity to people who are able to make different decisions, but that when in doubt, just lean on your teammates and they will help you make sure you make wise decisions when it comes to going to classes, getting enough sleep, feeling lonely, and more often than not, just put you in a good mood.”
O’Brien: “I seek advice from people who I know understand me but also aren’t afraid to give me an honest answer. I’m lucky to have friends and family who all have different perspectives, which always helps me make decisions and get through challenging times. I think the most recent advice that has resonated with me and pretty much came from all of my closest family and friends was to do what makes me happy. This is something I’m really trying to live by, and I think it’s helping a ton as I move onto a new adventure!”
Davenport: “I simply ask people. I call them; I email them; I reach out to them. If you have a previous relationship with someone, just go ahead and call them. If you don’t have that, send them a quick message and make sure they are alright with you asking them questions. People reach out to me all the time and they write these lengthy notes, and while it’s nice to be asked, everyone is wicked busy, and I’d rather see people just cut straight to their request first.
As for advice that resonated, going to the NCAA Championships this past season, we had an afternoon where we could’ve practiced. It’s always tough to balance your athletes’ energy, and I called a coach who had been there before and she ended up saying, ‘I’d give my rowers a day off.’ It was good to hear from someone who had that experience.”
What do you believe is the most underrated aspect of the fall rowing season?
O’Brien: “I believe the most underrated aspect of the fall rowing season is pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider donuts to get you through those long practices, obviously!”
Delleman: “The most underrated part of fall season on our team was being able to row in mixed double sculls. Our coach always stacked the doubles, so they were very close in speed and would have us do pieces against one another. It was a lot of fun, because we were extremely competitive and would humorously smack talk one another. It also created a lot of team camaraderie which really unified our girls and boys into one team. Not to mention the fun competitive atmosphere drove us to become faster and made dealing with cold weather and choppy conditions a bit more bearable.”
Davenport: “It’s fun! Spring season can be a grind with the focus on competitive performance. The fall is quite different and, for me, it’s been allowing my athletes to enjoy it and go out and have fun – fun being defined here as being away from some of the stress and letting time slow down a little bit as part of the process. That flow is important to the results over the whole academic season. People get engaged with our sport when they feel like they can improve and have an intrinsic reward to just being out there.”
Spring season can be a grind with the focus on competitive performance. The fall is quite different and, for me, it’s been allowing my athletes to enjoy it and go out and have fun – fun being defined here as being away from some of the stress and letting time slow down a little bit as part of the process. That flow is important to the results over the whole academic season. People get engaged with our sport when they feel like they can improve and have an intrinsic reward to just being out there.”