Head of the Charles 2014: Emily’s Qualification Quest
February 25, 2016
I believe there is a very large piece in this journey missing from the blog, and that piece is my mum. A lot of you have met her, some of you have only heard the great stories I tell about her, and a lot of you may have no idea why I have not mentioned her yet. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2008 and battled the cancer for six years. Through many rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, reoccurrences and emotional ups and downs, she always put her three children and husband before herself. Her battle ended last February when the cancer had won the battle. My family was given two months notice of this life changing event, but to this day it still feels surreal.
She was the most positive, creative, up lifting and driven person many people had the pleasure to know. To this day I see myself growing into the woman she was and I strive to be the role model, friend, mum and person she was with everything I do. Through the twenty-one years of friendship she gave me, she was my biggest inspiration, and that has only increased since February 2015.
My younger sister, Laura, has always had the dream of competing in the Olympics for swimming, following my father’s footsteps from when he competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA. I always let her have that spotlight because I had not found the passion she had for swimming in a sport. I found that passion when I joined the crew team in 2009 at the boarding school I attended, Emma Willard School. That was when my mum started making small comments about how I should strive to compete on the Olympic level. I always brushed it off because it was something Laura wanted to do and I didn’t want to take that spotlight away from her. I only really considered this opportunity until after she passed away because I know she found so much joy in watching me compete and succeed in a sport I loved so much.
So, it is safe to say that a huge part of my motivation comes from knowing that she is so proud of me for following a dream that she knew I had, but was too afraid to pursue it. Through my training schedule, the many meters of swimming and erging, all the pieces I’ve succeeded in and also fallen short in, and every day I step into the boathouse, I know she is looking down on me smiling. I remind myself on my bad days that she was brave, strong and determined to beat the cancer for so long, and that I can do anything for the two hours I am at the boathouse everyday. She is a huge part of who I am and she will always be the one thing that will push me past my mental walls and fuel my fire to compete.
This journey and quest for qualification is dedicated to her.
Photo: (left to right) David, Peter, Susan, with Emily at the Head of the Charles 2014