I had hung up my ice hockey skates and rugby boots and had just finished my 6th year at school. My last year at school largely had no direction as I was content with an offer to a university, and didn’t see the need to do anymore than the bare minimum to get by. Having my weekends back due to no commitments to ice hockey or rugby games, I filled them with going out with friends.
Spending about 12 months in this lifestyle, while I enjoyed it, there was a lack of satisfaction and purpose growing larger inside of me. Slowly, I started to feel the competitive itch return in me that wasn’t being scratched by playing Search and Destroy on Call of Duty and doing bicep curls in the gym. Before I started my first year at Strathclyde University, the London Olympics were held. Playing many sports as a kid, I had always thought the idea of being a professional athlete would be amazing. Watching the Women’s Pairs Olympic final, I heard that Helen Glover had just won Gold after having picked up an oar only 4 years prior. I googled “rowing” and so began my obsession.
As with all SUBC Novices, my first rowing experience was in the boat “Lady Valerie”, the first boat owned by SUBC, from the Sixites. The hoppy smell from the Chivas Regal Distillery was in the air. While the club was extremely welcoming and friendly, the novices only trained a few times a week, as they were coached by volunteers who were also balancing training and studying. From my extensive googling of rowing, I learned that rowers “trained real hard”, “miles make champions” and “more is more” etc. For what I was interested in, a few sessions a week would not get me where I wanted.
I looked into the GB Rowing Start Programme and learned there was a centre based in Glasgow. I felt I roughly met some of the requirements to get tested, except for the 188cm minimum height requirement. I am 187cm, but spines shrink as the day goes on, so in order to get myself as close as possible to 188cm when tested, on the day of testing I spent my morning horizontal and reclined my car seat to the max as my dad drove me to the test. Apart from measuring in at 187.5cm, I met all the standards they wanted.
Joining the Start programme, I was extremely keen to get stuck in. Through the monthly testing that is done on the Start programme, where all centres meet up and are assessed, I quickly started to move up through the ranks. After about 6 months I was showing a promising trajectory and for the next season, U23 possibilities were on the horizon.