Hi! I’m a junior in high school and I just moved up to the girls varsity team in September. I was on the novice team for fall and spring of my sophomore year and I was in the top boat but now since I moved up to varsity the playing field is a lot more competitive and I am worried about being recruited later this year. I’m also around 5’5 and 140lbs and I wasn’t sure if I should drop to 135 to be considered for “lightweight” considering my height. I was invited for winter training on our team (just finished our first full week) and I feel like I’m already burning out. My family and I are making over a 40 minute commute to get to practice each day, 6 days a week and I just feel like I cannot get, well, my shit together fully. The days are getting shorter and we have practice at 5:45 to 7:45 three days a week and its just a little tough. Mostly I just needed some re-assurance that all this hard work and commuting will be alright and I will get recruited. I was also wondering if its even possible for a 5’5 girl to get into a D1 program in college? I’m also looking at D2 and D3 possibly, but it seems if I want a scholarship D1 is the choice to go. Also I’m taking my SAT’s and ACT’s in about 2-3 weeks and I’m worried that this too late for colleges to see my scores? I heard some girls my age sending them in October for colleges but I think if I send them in December it’s still pretty early…? And should I shoot some coaches an email now about being interested in their team for the fall of 2017 before I even have my SAT scores? Thank you thank you thank you.
There’s no way I can reassure you that this will all work out and you’ll get recruited. There’s a lot that goes into being recruited (if you haven’t been following along check out all of these posts), not to mention getting a scholarship, so it’d be impossible to say whether or not this is all worth it. I know that’s definitely not the answer you wanted/needed but I can’t imagine anyone else out there would say differently.
If you’re 5’5″ I think you might have better luck (in terms of the boats you’d be able to compete for) at a D3 school but I definitely know of some women at D1 schools that are your height or shorter and they do fine. They usually settle into the 2V or 3V, which can be tough if you’re super competitive and being in the 1V is your goal, but of the ones I’ve talked to through here it’s just something they’ve accepted (in a positive way, not that they feel like they’re settling or something) and they’ve refocused their personal goals to suit the lineup they’re currently in. Regardless of where you are I think that’s a good mindset to put yourself in but when you’re in high school and looking at colleges it’s definitely something you need to consider. You might talk to your current coach and get their opinion since they obviously know a bit more about you as an athlete and can probably give you more specific advice based off of that.
Related: College recruiting 101
The recruiting process for most people tends to start in their junior year so you’re not super late to the party since that’s where you’re at now. If you already know the schools you’re interested in then I’d fill out the questionnaires on the athletic departments’ websites and then shoot an email to the coaches introducing yourself and letting them know when they can expect your test scores. Once you receive them, forward them on to the coaches and keep them updated on your progress from there. (I talk about contacting coaches a lot in the recruiting posts I linked before so I’d really recommend spending some time reading through those, as well as any of the posts in the “recruiting” tag since there have been lots of similar questions asked in there.) The only time it’s really too early to be contacting a coach is if you’re a freshman or sophomore (or a junior with little to no notable results) so you should be fine assuming you have a solid rowing resume and appear recruitable on paper. That’s something else you should discuss with your coach too – based on what they see in you as an athlete, your 2k time, your grades, etc. what do they think your chances are at being recruited by the schools you’re interested in.
As far as getting burned out, I get where you’re coming from. Obviously it’s a little different but when we were practicing in the afternoon this fall it would take me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to drive eight freaking miles across town to get to the boathouse. By the time October rolled around I was beyond over it because it just ate up so much time … 45+ minutes to get there, 2 hours at practice, and then 45 minutes to get home. Like I said, obviously it’s not the same but trust me when I say that I get how mentally exhausting a long commute can be. Eventually you’ll get into a groove where it doesn’t feel so overwhelming but you do have to spend some time planning out what you’ve gotta do, how you need to allocate your time, etc. Since you’re not too far into winter training yet I’d try to do that sometime this week when you’ve got some free time. Take advantage of your commute to/from the boathouse too – if you’re not driving, bring some earplugs to block out the noise and get some reading done in the car. When I was at Syracuse I would review flashcards for my anatomy + physiology class on our 25ish minute drive back to campus. It didn’t require a ton of mental effort to do and it was something I wouldn’t have to find time for later in the day when I was a lot busier (and a lot more tired).
I wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket as far as all this being worth it though. If your only measurement of success is whether or not you get recruited then I think you’re most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. If you make that a big picture goal though and set smaller goals for each month of winter training (i.e. drop your 2k by 2 seconds by New Year’s, increasing the length of your planks by 10 seconds per week over the next six weeks … stuff like that) then I think you’ll be less likely to feel burned out and more likely to feel like the sacrifice was worth it if you see yourself achieving in other areas that are more relevant to where you’re currently at in your career.