First, I want to thank the SeaBase Community for welcoming us into your boathouse and providing us with everything we need to succeed! Thank you!
I began rowing my freshman year of high school, and not long after that my ambitions to compete at the highest level of the sport grew rapidly. The rowing community immediately drew me in and I fell in love with the competitiveness and camaraderie of the sport.
Earlier this year I took part in a training camp with some of the 2016 US National Team here with SoCal Scullers to further my attempt at making the US National Team. After a week of hard training three times a day and getting beaten by the other rowers on almost every piece, I knew I needed to change my approach if I was going to get to my goal.
Making it to the national team is particularly satisfying to me because at this time last year, I’d told my friends, including Galen, that I was frustrated in the extreme. At my lowest moments, I wondered whether to abandon my rowing dreams: I was suffering from two herniated discs in my back and a stress-fractured vertebrae. I’ve since recovered, thanks in part to my experience rowing here in California. Now I’m on the road with Galen, pursuing the dream.
Ultimately, I decided that given all I wanted, I wouldn’t let myself be stopped from making the national team this year simply because things hadn’t quite gone to plan last year. Looking at what happened to Galen helped put some of my challenges into a different perspective, too.
When I got back home to New Rochelle I completely changed the way I rowed with the guidance I had been given from Coaches Dan McGill and Ian Simpson. Since then, I have returned to SoCal to train under Dan and Ian and qualified with my doubles partner, Galen Bernick for the Under-23 (U23) World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Since being named to the National Team, Galen and I have engaged in a whirlwind of travel, training, paperwork, and a general flurry of preparation for Worlds. It’s been a source of joy as well as some anxiety — not about the competition, but more about logistics. The up-front cost of traveling and competing in Bulgaria is something we really need help with. Today.
As elite athletes, we continue to train up to five hours a day, which makes it difficult to work as employees in any kind of traditional job. Our work is trying to be the best in the world at what we’re doing. That’s why we need help covering expenses.
Any donation that you can give towards our journey is extremely appreciated and goes a long way in representing the United States at the highest level. Thank you for all your help and support!
Friends and family,
As you may or may not have heard by now, Galen Bernick and I won our event on June 27, and that gave us the opportunity to represent the United States at this year’s Under-23 World Rowing Championships. The competition is coming up fast, and it’s in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. All the US athletes need to make it there, with coach and equipment, to participate in the competition.
Getting to this point is a thrill and an honor, and it’s been a long process to getting here. My journey has taken countless hours of hard work on and off of the water.
Galen and I are pinching ourselves to be here, and especially thrilled to be looking at some serious challenges in the rear-view mirror. We have both willingly sacrificed a tremendous amount to get here, and we will both continue to do so to reach the highest levels of our sport. Yes, it’s true, we have Olympic dreams, and Plovdiv is a major milestone in that plan.
We are thrilled to be celebrating at this point because not long ago, our dreams of competing for the United States seemed suddenly very far away. Galen was in a life-changing car accident, and I had suffered multiple back injuries while training.
Beginning in my sophomore year of college, I began experiencing aches and pains in my lower back. These turned into pain that knocked me completely out of training for close to 10 months. I was given numerous diagnosis by multiple medical professionals, including team doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.
After exhausting almost all roads to a smooth recovery for my body, including epidurals, cortisone injections and thousands of hours of physical therapy, I had told my friends, including Galen, that I’d decided that I would end my rowing career. Despite having developed a very deep relationship with rowing over the past seven years, I couldn’t even do basic things, much less row. Not being able to dress myself, carry my own backpack to class, or be as agile as any other college student really took a toll on me and my psyche.
Nonetheless, I decided to row one last summer season at home with the New York Athletic Club. During what I had expected to be my last season, the fire inside me kept me on the water, working to achieve my long-term goal of rowing for the United States.
Since then, I have continued my rehab. with great success, and Galen and I are partnered up in the double, ready to take the world by storm.
Given what we’ve been through, we’re really, really ready for this moment. We’ve been working for this physically and mentally for years, and are back in position to do our friends, family and the US Team proud in 2017. Still, it’s never been more clear than after winning Nationals that our many hours of hard work and dedication, and our will to not only recover our health, but win a spot on the National team, simply are not enough in and of themselves to get us where we need to go.
We need to go to Bulgaria, and costs for traveling to and competing there are what we really need help with. It’s a humbling thing to ask, and we appreciate any support you can give.
As elite athletes, it’s difficult to train up to five hours a day and continue to work, or do any other work than training to beat the best in the world.
Any donation you can give to support this next phase of our journey would reduce the worry and stress of organizing logistics. Your support, no matter the amount, is very much appreciated, and will go a long way in helping Galen and I stay focused on representing the United States at the highest level we possibly can.
Thank you for all your help and support!