row2k's latest Interview is with Michigan State Junior Monique Carter. Carter learned to row as part of Row New York's first class and after four years with them, earned her way on to Michigan State's women team. row2k talked with her about her high school program and what it took to make the Spartan Varsity 8 as a sophomore.
row2k - You learned to row as a freshman in high school with Row New York in New York City, why did you decide to take up the sport?
Monique Carter - The founder of Row New York Amanda Kraus and the head coach Previn Chandraratna had put together a very impressive team at the time. It was more than just a rowing team and that is what stood out to me the most. They taught me the sport of rowing, but learning how to row was only half of my experience of joining Row New York. The club offered me and other young women on the team free SAT prep and we even had tutors to help us improve in our classes. They not only wanted us to be successful high school rowers, but they wanted us to be successful students as well. They did an awesome job in preparing us for college and rowing on the next level.
Kraus and head coach Chandraratna are truly dedicated to Row New York and the girls on the team. To this day I am amazed by just how much they care and support the girls that are on the team and the girls that are currently rowing at the next level. I always felt like I could go to them to talk to them about anything because they were easy to talk to and would help me find a solution to any of my problems. I remember going to coach Chandraratna my senior year and asking him to help me with a math problem that I just could not figure out. He stayed there with me until I understood the math problem and could actually do it on my own. Even though he had a very busy schedule, he still took time out to help me become a better student athlete.
This why Row New York has become and still is a successful and thriving program. I hold the utmost respect for Kraus and coach Chandraratna and I know that they truly love their job because they have continued to changed and impact young girl’s lives for the better. The entire staff at Row New York are dedicated and committed individuals who come together to make the world a better place through the sport of rowing.
I chose rowing because it seemed like a new, fun, and different sport. Everyone expected me to play basketball or run track, but I just wanted to be different and do something that no one expected me to do. Row New York has become a second home for me and I always felt more than welcome when I go back in the summer to row or erg.
row2k - When you started, Row New York was in its infancy, how much did the program grow in the four years you were there?
Monique Carter - I was part of Row New York’s first tryout in 2003. I remember that day like it was yesterday, two people showed up and I was one of them. I was only a freshman in high school and was very nervous, scared, and excited at the same time. I really did not know what I was getting myself in to because I had never rowed or erged before in my life. The other girl and I both made the team and we were added to the existing seven or eight girls that were already on the team. There were about nine girls that fall. By the next spring, we were up to about fifteen. During my senior year of high school, we had about 40, including a full varsity and novice squad. Currently, there are about 65 girls on the Row New York team and they serve another 200 in other shorter running programs.
The team has also grown in terms of speed and competitiveness. Row New York went from a slow first fall to a perennial finalist at Northeast Regionals and then New York States. Individually, I was not put in the boat that first fall and that made me work harder to push and prove myself. I distinctly remember one day when I had to run laps around the lake and saw the four that I did not make rowing out on the water. While running, I looked at that boat and I thought to myself that someday that would be me out there.
row2k - Are any of your former teammates from Row New York competing collegiately as well?
Monique Carter - According to Row New York’s academic success, 100% of their participants have gone on to college and most are still rowing competitively. In addition to myself, Row New York alumni are competing at Radcliffe, UCF, Smith, Lehigh, SUNY-Buffalo, SUNY-Binghamton, Iona, and others.
row2k - Why did you decide to attend Michigan State?
Monique Carter - I attended Michigan State University because there was a great balance between academics and rowing. At State I felt like I could grow and become a strong student athlete and reach my potential and goals. I knew that it would be a very different and unique experience for me rowing-wise and geographically.
row2k - You went from the 2F your first year as a Spartan to making the Varsity 8 last year as a sophomore. How did you get up to speed so quickly at the varsity level?
Monique Carter - Having patience in myself and following the training plan of the team has prepared me for the varsity level. Trusting my coaches has helped me take the next step as well, because it made me believe in their plan. This has allowed me to not become complacent, and it has made me push myself and strive for more each year.
row2k - What is your favorite thing about the sport?
Monique Carter - My favorite thing about rowing used to be going really fast in a race. However, since I have been rowing in college that has changed. Now my favorite thing about rowing is the erg. I have developed a newfound respect for the erg, because the time spent on the it brings a team closer and it lifts the team up when they need it the most. I depend on the erg to help me be more efficient and consistent with workouts and testing. Sometimes I wish the erg were more like people because it gives it to you straight up and does not beat around the bush. The erg does not play games with you and it does not lie, your results depend on how much you put into it.
row2k - What are you studying and do you have any plans for after college yet?
Monique Carter - I am majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science. My concentration in this major is Health Studies. I have a strong interest in physical or occupational therapy and after college I plan on attending graduate school. I am sure rowing will definitely play some aspect in my life after college.