This week's row2k Interview chats with St Mary's senior Deanna Estes, who went from competitive cheerleading to college rugby before finally finding her way to a novice practice as a sophomore; in a week, she was hooked on rowing. Now a captain, Deanna and the Gaels are gearing up for this week's San Diego Crew Classic.
row2k - You got started somewhat late in rowing, how did you find the sport and why did you decide to give it a try?
Deanna Estes - I was familiar with rowing because my oldest brother was involved in the local rowing club and I had a few close friends who were recruited to row in college. However, I didn’t come to Saint Mary’s College of California to row. I was looking for a sport to play when I started my freshman year, though. I wanted to try something new so I joined the club rugby team, and was often stopped by girls from the rowing team asking me if I was already playing a sport. Then, in the beginning of my sophomore year the rugby team didn’t have enough girls that wanted to play so we stopped practicing. I have always been on sports teams and found myself looking for a new team to join. I remembered the girls on the rowing team who had always tried to get me to join. I asked one of them for the contact information for the novice coach. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I decided I would go to one practice. One practice turned into two and before I knew it I was completely infatuated with the sport. I joined the team and one week later the team went to Sacramento for a training camp. I didn’t know anyone on the team or basically even how to row. We spent almost a week there and that is when I really fell in love with the sport and the team. I had never met people who worked so hard and were so passionate about something.
row2k - What was your athletic background in high school?
Deanna Estes - Growing up I played everything from basketball to volleyball to softball. I was usually on a team of some kind. But in high school I became passionate about competitive cheerleading. I liked the fitness needed to lift girls into the air and to do gymnastics. I enjoy being on sports teams that require a lot out of you. Competitive cheerleading was exactly that. We would practice for multiple hours everyday to get every last detail perfect.
row2k - How is rowing similar and different than those sports?
Deanna Estes - Rowing is similar to competitive cheerleading because they both rely on being synchronized. In cheer it was important to know the routine and to hit the right moves at the appropriate time. The flow of the routine depended on your team’s ability to match up. Similarly, rowing relies on the team’s ability to match one and other. However, I have never done a racing sport and I never thought I would like it as much as I do. The head to head racing was not something that I had experienced before and ended up loving it. As far as rowing and rugby goes, I thought that I had pushed myself in rugby. It takes a lot to get tackled and get back up, but it also takes a lot to be down a boat length and make a move. There is something addictive about pushing yourself to your absolute limit and then realizing you can go farther. There is nothing better than finishing a piece or a race knowing that you had nothing left to give. Rowing takes over your life. It impacts the way you eat, how much sleep you get, and the amount of time you spend doing other activities. Rowing is a lifestyle and rugby was just a game.
row2k - You were selected a team captain this year, what are your strengths as a rower and teammate?
Deanna Estes - I would like to think that I was selected as captain because I am someone that my team can look up to. At least that is what I hope. I try and be the person I would want as a captain. I show up on time with a good attitude and give everything I have at practice. I haven’t been rowing the longest and I may not be the fastest but I am dedicated to what I do. But I think the skills needed to be a good captain depend upon on the team and their particular environment.
row2k - How has this season gone so far and what are your goals for the spring?
Deanna Estes - Our fall season went really well. The highlight for me personally was going to Head of the Charles with the V4+. As far as our spring season, last year we placed third in our conference! This year and every year we obviously strive to do better. We want to place in the top two in the conference. Saint Mary’s is a small school and aren’t traditionally seen as a power house school, but we work incredibly hard. Looking at the near future we are excited about racing at San Diego Crew Classic. It is one of the bigger races that Saint Mary’s participates in and it’s a perfect time to show off our hard work!
row2k - What do you like most about the sport of rowing?
Deanna Estes - The water may be the part I love and hate the most about rowing. My teammates make fun of me for having a fear of open water and although I still have that fear, there is something about the water that calms me down. As I said, I love the pushing myself to the limit, to the point where you don’t think you can go any harder, and realizing that you have more to give. I also love that rowing is probably the sport that requires the most teamwork that there is. Every individual has to be perfectly synchronized and fluid with the rest of the boat. It isn’t about individual performance like who scored the winning shot or batting in runs. Every person in the boat relies on each other. Every seat is important and without someone in that seat we wouldn’t be able to move the boat. It takes all of us push for that inch or take another seat.
row2k - What are you studying and do you have any plans for after graduation?
Deanna Estes - I am currently studying psychology with an emphasis in early childhood and adolescent development. I graduate in May and plan on attending graduate school but I haven’t decided where yet. As far as career choices, I have always had a passion for working with kids. Being a teacher is the one thing that I have always wanted to do. More recently though, I have wanted to work in a therapeutic setting geared toward the wellness of children. The future is really up in the air right now and I am excited to see where different choices might take me.