This week's college preview interview is with Clemson senior Liz Robb. In addition to being an integral part of Clemson's recent success, Robb has been a part of the USA U23 team and talks with row2k about rowing Clemson and perservering through injury and family tragedy.
row2k: You almost decided not to go to Clemson after your brother's passing. Tell us a little bit about those circumstances.
Liz Robb: On June 25, 2007, I was struck with the news that not only would my brother not be attending Clemson with me that upcoming fall, but he would also be missing out on every other significant event for the rest of mine and my sister's lives. That is a day that is engrained in my heart and will be for the rest of my life. Growing up my brother was the one that was on track to be a Division I athlete. After my brother was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 16 he was forced to quit football (which he was the school star at) and abandon his dreams of being a football player at a large university.
Once we realized Sam would never be able to fulfill his dreams I decided that I would make it my goal to be a Division I athlete myself with him right there by my side. After his death, I was unsure if I could handle living out our dreams without him by my side supporting me, but then I remembered that if he was here he would be supporting me every step of the way. Ever since then he has been my motivation to continue the endless hours on the erg, in the weight room, and in the boat because I know if he was here with me he would be a proud big brother. Although he is not here physically I always feel him with me in spirit whatever I am doing.
row2k: What have been some of your favorite memories of rowing been so far?
Liz Robb: I have two equally memorable and amazing moments that I have gone through here at Clemson. My freshman year (2007-2008) I was lucky enough to be healthy and strong allowing me to attain a seat in the Varsity (starting with the 2nd head race of the season and throughout that spring season), be named the first in Clemson Rowing history as ACC Freshman of the Year, All ACC, CRCA All-Region, and then finishing out my first season strong with Clemson's first ever participation in the NCAA Championship. The second but definitely best moment I have encountered here at Clemson was defeating the University of Virginia at the Atlantic Coast Championships 2009 and knowing that I am now a part of the team that made history, by not only winning the V8+ race but also the Championship.
row2k: You have also had some injury issues, do you have any advice for how to best cope with the injury and rehab process?
Liz Robb: Immediately following the ACC 2010 race I was in a large amount of pain and then shortly after, got the diagnosis that I would not race the remainder of the season due to 3 separate stress fractures in 3 different ribs. This was the most tragic time watching my teammates reach success at the South/Central Regional Championship and NCAA Championship in California. I suddenly went from being victorious to not even participating in the races. After a long summer of resting my ribs up and preparing to start this season strong, I realized that this is a sign of why everything happens for a reason. I was given just a glimpse of what my brother faced as he was diagnosed with cancer and forced to quit football and basketball, which was his whole life at that time. Rowing is my life and I am lucky enough to pursue my goals of having a great season and finishing strong. Everytime I get up for practice I have a wave of happiness come across me just knowing that I am able to go to practice, row, and continue to get stronger to help my team be victorious this season.
My advice to those who are coping with injury and rehab is to know that your career as an athlete is not over you have just hit a little bump in the road, which always makes you stronger in the end. After taking off to rest your body, crank it up and make your next season the greatest one and exceed all the expectations coaches, athletes, family and friends have for you.
row2k: What was the most important thing you learned from 2010 that you will use to help you and your crews succeed in 2011?
Liz Robb: The most important thing I learned in 2010 is first of all is to take advantage of everything you have because in the blink of an eye it could all be gone. Through the thick and thin that our team faced last year we came to realize that no matter what boat you are in or if you are a freshman or second semester senior we are all there to support each other. We did not finish as strong as we had hoped last year but we grew closer as a team through injuries, coaching changes, defeat, victory.
row2k: How has this season gone so far and what are your goals for the spring?
Liz Robb: Our goal for this Spring is to get FAST, very fast! We are working hard on the water, on the ergs, in the weight room, and in the classroom to surprise everyone and surpass all expectations put upon us by other teams, coaches, support staff, and all Clemson Rowing supporters. Whether we come out with a win or loss, at least I will know that my teammates and I have put in the hours and hard work all year long and with that we will have already reached success even without the gold medal around our necks (although that is a driving incentive).
row2k: What do you like most about the sport of rowing?
Liz Robb: My favorite part about rowing is my teammates. They are the reason why I have reached as much success as I have for the last 9 years of my life. They are always by your side which makes all of the sweat and tears beyond worth it, such as winning ACCs or even as simple as having a perfect erg test. I live for the practices with perfect rhythm and power, and with a beautiful sunset coming above the mountains in the distance.
row2k: What are you studying and do you have any plans for after graduation?
Liz Robb: It is so hard to believe that my time here is about to come to an end but I am preparing for graduation in May with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Athletic Leadership. I talked with my coaches and teammates and have decided I am going to be the "crazy girl" in Clemson every weekend cheering on my Tigers through every one of their races. Other than being the biggest Clemson Rowing fan around I have decided I would like to dedicate my life to helping others that faced life threatening challenges and illnesses that transpired in my brothers life. I am hoping to pursue a career in Child Life, working at a Children's Hospital assisting the children with the emotional burden of facing a life threatening disease and being forced to leave their family and friends day after day. I am hoping to also start coaching a Junior program on the side of being a Clemson Rowing fan and Child Life Specialist.