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STORRS, Conn. – In merely 11 days, the UConn rowing team will be putting its boats in the water for the first race of the spring season, when it competes against UCF with Nova Southeastern, Jacksonville in Orlando, Fla.
Leading up to that first race, the Huskies have been sharing team themes over the past five weeks – those aspects of the rowing program’s culture that help make it what it is under 20-year head coach Jennifer Wendry.
UConn’s final theme pertains to the all-important concept of academic balance as a student-athlete. Without balance, each of the 62 rowers would not be able to succeed on and off the water, as they do right now.
“Our team stresses academic excellence and as a result, its members are strong and competitive in the classroom and out,” said senior Sarah Norman. “Time is the biggest element in all of this.”
As of the spring of 2016, rowing had 22 student-athletes with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, including nine who exceeded a 3.5. Since 2012, the program has had 19 rowers named National New England Region Scholar-Athletes.
“Being part of a team of strong and smart women who know what you’re going through makes the balance much easier,” said junior transfer Nicole Chaloux. “The support from Student-Athlete Success Program tutors also helps me balance the demands of our competition and classroom schedules.”
Finding academic-athletic balance depends greatly on what each student-athlete is doing during the time before, in between and after their schedule demands, however.
“In order to balance academics, we need to excel in every other aspect of being a student-athlete. This includes proper nutrition, sleep, hydration, and fitness,” said junior Rachel Signor.
Without the proper resources to achieve, however, the task would be much more difficult. UConn rowers make it a priority to use all options available to them when it comes to receiving extra help.
“Our team takes full advantage of SASP, our advisers and the tutors available. These are great resources that not only help us transition to university life, but balance being in season nearly the entire year, with our academics,” said sophomore Madeline Farrell.
For newcomers to the team, the change was evident right at the start of their tenure in the UConn rowing program.
“Being on the team has been incredible motivation for me academically,” said junior Michelle Rand, entering her first spring with the team. “With tutors and my personal goal to stay above a 3.0 GPA, I am doing better than ever since joining the team.”
The Huskies have three races before the end of March, and with the first being toward the end of spring break, they have less than two weeks to put everything together – while staying on top of their homework.