Just Because I'm Small Doesn't Mean I'm Not Bossy

Saturday, September 10, 2016 - By: Emma H, Allard ‘18; Photo by Mr. Brian Carr

When someone writes down the details of a rowing race, I'm that little plus sign at the end of the sentence. When someone looks out on the race course, I'm the smallest person in the boat, but I unquestionably have the loudest voice. As you view that coxed quad coming towards the finish line and all you see is the tip of a light gray baseball hat; I'm the little person underneath it: I’m called a coxswain. 

“What time is the race? What oars are we taking down? What lane are we in? How long is the race? Who are we racing?” These are questions any typical crew will ask their coxswain, and as the cox, it's my job to know the answers. I’m all about answers. 

Some coxswains join rowing with the mindset to row, but after being on the water maybe once or twice they realize that they're just too small, or can't keep up on the erg, or maybe they're just too bossy. One of the many positive aspects to rowing is that just because we’re too small to actually row doesn't mean there isn't a spot for us in this sport: there are no bench warmers in rowing. Coxing gives us ‘smaller’ people an opportunity to be a part of a team sport, as well as to be the leader: the one in charge.

Imagine eight tall, muscular goofy fifteen year old boys sitting in a boat and one 5’3 girl sitting in front of them yelling at the top of her lungs. These boys have to listen and rely on her. When taking out an 8+, I sit in the stern of the boat, I stare right at our stroke seat and I get to see all eight of the rowers’ blades - but not what their bodies are doing. I have to figure that out by watching their oars.

The uninitiated think that a coxie is just dead weight in the boat or the tiny one who just sits and yells “Row” for two thousand meters. But for those of you who think that's all I do, you're wrong. 

Yes, you're right, I do just sit in the boat and yell but what you don't know is I spend countless hours looking up different races from past years. I look up strategies or different warm ups that will help the crew. I do as much as I can to help improve our crew on the water as well as off. I am the coach on the water during a race. I am required to be yelling for a straight seven minutes to tell the crew where they're at in the race, how to correct their technique, and how to respond, as one, at the most physically and emotionally demanding moments in their lives.

So yes, I may not have my heart rate at 190 bpm like those eight rowers right in front of me, but I surely am working hard - in a completely different way. 

Are you ready? Row. 

Emma H, Allard ‘18

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