Written by WSU coxswain Erin Walker, submitted by WSU oarsman Luke Hunter.
There are none in this world who can understand the glory of crew except those who have done it. There is something unimaginable in the sport of rowing - it cannot be described, it cannot be taught, it must be explored through experience. There is something about gliding quietly across the water at five in the morning that subconsciously satisfies the very depths of the soul. Peace is found during morning practice, shared only with eight other teammates, the rising sun, and the silence. There is something about the repetition of the stroke; catch, pull through, release - that exposes the mind to a higher level of placidity found nowhere else.
There is something about pushing yourself farther than you can go, until you feel ready to collapse, and then pulling that last five hundred harder than any before. There is something cleansing to the being in all the sweat and tears and blood that pour out over the course of a season. Nowhere else can such a rollercoaster of emotions be felt; adrenaline at the start, exhilaration during the sprint, fear at the necessity of another PR, sadness at the loss of oarsmen, frustration at every obstacle that rears itself. In no other sport is such a chaotic control present. Quick hands, quick body, slow slide; all eight oars in at perfect time.
In no other sport is the word TEAM so meaningful as in crew. Together in a shell, eight oars and eight sliding seats act as bindings - stroke to seven, seven to six, six to five... all the way to the bow. One rower's demon haunts the entire boat; perfection in one oarsman means nothing. A set boat and solid row is achieved solely when eight minds think identically, eight bodies melt together to form one machine.
One mistake can cost a race; one stray thought from the goal can cause a dream to die. Yet somehow, the end is always reached, the destination is always found, only to become a challenge again the next day. Never are you the best; never are you the worst. We are all floating somewhere in the middle, fighting to take the number one slot at any given time.
You see, it's not about winning or losing. It's about competition with yourself - going out there to do your very best, to give it your all, to have nothing left. It's about supporting your teammates, pulling for them when you have all but lost faith in yourself. Crew is a sport that demands all of these things. It is not a sport of fame; it is not a sport of popularity. Rowing is above all that. Rowing is a sport of purity and strength, constantly made better by you and I.