Rowing Ruminations Part 9
(No book spoilers, details obscured and names withheld to protect the innocent, but if you PM me I'd be willing to elaborate especially if I know you for real.)
That silver medal (and the gold team points medal we helped win) was the highlight of my rowing career results-wise. I didn’t win any medals after that. Kind of sucks peaking at age 18, but fortunately it’s only rowing.
The team competed in one race in fall (I didn’t compete in that race because they didn’t allow women coxswains in men’s events), and went out on the water a few Saturdays with mixed lineups. When the ice appeared and the lake geared up for ice skating and ice fishing season, we went into winter mode. This meant ergs and weight training.
Our campus had a tiny fixed weight room. You could bench press and leg press, but you couldn’t do bench rows or power cleans. The main campus weight room was almost always occupied by the athletic clubs based in the main campus, so we went to the community gym. We trained in teams of two or three, and while no one said anything, I could tell no one wanted to be teamed with me. It wasn’t that they didn’t like me or that I smelled bad (if I did, they never said anything), it was cumbersome taking off all those weights when it was my turn, and putting them back on when I finished. Plus, I was essentially useless for spotting. I went because I was supposed to, but I wasn’t sure I saw the point.
My coxing for ergs made more sense. I could hear how and what the senior coxswains were saying to the rowers when they were coxing, and try to copy their words and their tone. Every so often, the (new) captain would call for the coxswains to row, but every single one of the other coxswains were ex-rowers and several inches taller than me and male, so it was pretty darned near impossible to keep up. I hoped I earned effort points, at least.
There was another thing we did in winter. None of the athletic clubs on our campus were real teams in the American collegiate sense, with a budget from the university. We functioned on alumni donations and our own club dues, and some money from the Students’ Association. Some clubs had a long history and lots of alumni who were willing to help. Others didn’t really need that much money to function. Crew belonged to neither category. As a club, we were only about 15 or so years old, which meant only 15 years worth of alumni that would provide financial support. New boats cost about as much as new cars. Oars and ergs were imports. We had to hire trailer trucks to get our boats to race venues. So, we worked.
We did stuff like be parking lot attendants and exam monitors, and gave our earnings to the club treasurer. The parking lot attendant job was the worst. We were all issued uniforms, and the smallest one was about three sizes too big on me. The other guys thought my triple-rolled sleeves and cuffs were hysterical. The first year or so we had a few of these gigs per season, but as the Japanese economy worsened, we got competition from temp agencies that sent people who wanted money to buy rice and pay rent, as opposed to university students who wanted to buy Concept hatchet blades and pay the trailer truck driver, and that was the end of that.