“Go run the hill!” Something I heard almost every day from our coaches last year. We were in the middle of the season and our regattas had already started. This practice, we had to sprint against the varsity girls crew. Us being the junior varsity crew, we lost and the consequence was to run the hill thirty times.
That season, I was the steerswoman and I was mostly responsible for the actions that my crew executed. I always felt accountable for any loss that we took, even if it was just during practice, but I didn’t really feel like a leader. To me, it was inane to think that I am better than anyone. I was the same as everyone else, but the only difference was that I had to sit in another seat and I had to keep the boat straight.
It was already about six o‘clock and I didn’t want to run at all. Because paddling is during winter season, it was colder and practice that day felt demanding and I was exhausted. I thought to myself, “I can literally just give up at fifteen and finish the fifteen tomorrow.” I didn’t really care too much about it. It’s not like anyone payed attention to me while I was running anyways. Coaches were busy coaching, and everyone just kind of focused on themselves.
We were about halfway to thirty and I heard these two girls saying, “You know what? I think I’ll just do them tomorrow. I’m so tired.” But there was this one girl, Nai’a and she kept going, and I just kept going with her. She kept persisting, she was determined to finish and I planned to finish with her, because I didn’t want her to be alone. We finished a few more hills and I already saw the girls walking down the hill saying, “Okay, you guys just wanna go then?” Nai’a just kept running and said, “Nah, I’ll stop when Zion stops.” All of the girls that wanted to stop just kept going. Obviously not because they wanted to, but more so because we kept going. I wasn’t really trying to set the bar, be an example or a leader… or anything of that matter. I wasn’t even good at running… but she didn’t look up to me for that, she looked up to me, because I wasn’t stopping.
Most importantly I realized that people do pay attention to me. I realized that my actions affect more than myself. By just persisting, that could provide inspiration for my crew to keep going. They looked at me as a leader, and I started looking at myself as one too. I learned that being a leader… isn’t so much being better than everyone else. I definitely don’t run the best and I am surely not the best paddler… but I think after this, being a leader to me is just about the drive. I had heart, and unconditional love for what I did. Being a leader, it was never about being the best, or being the most talented. It was about how supportive I was of the team, and how much I was willing to do. How much drive I had. After all, being the best doesn’t matter if you don’t have the attitude for it.
Eventually we finished all thirty hills that day, but ever since this practice, I payed attention more to what I did. I started to push more, motivate more, and be more dedicated. Every time we would run hills, or do sprints on land, I would just try to give it my all, because now I knew they were watching and I didn’t want to set the example of giving up. That was my crew and they depended on me to keep them up. When I finally looked at myself the way they looked at me, I just tried harder in everything that I did, and eventually it rubbed off on them. They had more motivation and I developed this mindset to keep going even if I feel like I’m going to throw up. Not just for myself, but more so for them because their attitude almost always reciprocates mines.