Little Steps: Emily’s Qualification Quest

It’s little steps that turn the improbable into the inevitable.  It is improbable that a “Bahamian Olympic Rower” would be a DIII college student, sliding to practice through the Ithaca snow.  Yet here she is.  Training has been planned, Emily & her teammates are putting in extra work, travel has been booked, uniforms have been ordered, and the decals to turn plain C2 sculls into Bahamian National Team oars have arrived in the mail.  This is the international athletics version of “adulting” and we’re totally doing it.  

Emily currently appears undaunted by the steps she is taking.  She is cheerful and smart, with the wry acceptance of unpleasant work that rowers all share.  She made it through the first hurdle of training at home throughunspecified winter break.  Now, with teammates by her side, those additional 6k ergs or 30 minute swims hardly seem outside the norm.  In fact, the group handles the extra work so well that, were it not for the noticeable “effortless” improvements on erg tests this winter, I’m not sure they would believe 30 minutes here or there could make a difference.  It makes me feel like a circus performer still gratifyingly able to use the first trick she ever learned (more cardio= improved rowing fitness) to amaze her audience.  (Apologies to those who don’t enjoy a forced simile – its sort of my thing.)

On the coaching end, the “little step” of the week has involved securing a boat for Emily to row at the qualification regatta in Chile.  I take no credit here.  Becky has been the one wrestling with Google translate to determine which of a collection of partially informed strangers will be most likely to provide a shell that is neither 20 years old, sized for a heavyweight man or overpriced and needing to be transported from 600 miles away.  And like those extra 6k ergs, every e-mail and clumsy online translation is helping.  Progress doesn’t always look like progress, but we are here trusting… knowing… that optimistic preparation is the only way to reach the goal.

Rio is not yet inevitable, but soon, Emily will be sitting on a starting line in Chile, armed with a race plan and Bahamas colors…  and when the starter says GO there will be nothing improbable about how ready she is for the next 260 strokes.                ~Beth Greene


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