May 1, 2006
While most students on campus are preparing for finals, trying to balance school work with the temptation to enjoy the spring weather, Lydia McGee is saying goodbye to her sport.
McGee, an exercise science/pre-med major from Chariton, Iowa, has been part of the rowing team for four years. With the end of the season drawing near, the team will be losing more than just a member of its varsity squad.
“I will miss her strength in the boat. Every single time she is gets in a boat, I NEVER have to wonder if she is rowing hard. Without question she rows with a tremendous amount of energy,” said Head Coach Mandi Kowal.
McGee had a successful high school career, amassing 14 varsity letters. She was the captain of her basketball and track teams her senior year as well as was captain of her drill team her sophomore, junior and senior years. She was also selected to the all-conference cross country team her sophomore and junior years.
Entering her freshman year at Iowa, McGee wanted to get involved in a sport. But, she wasn’t sure what sport or how. One of her friends, a member of the cross country team, knew someone who was on the rowing team.
“She was roommates with a rower her freshman year. I came to school and wanted to participate in a sport, but I didn’t want to follow in her footsteps. She mentioned I could walk on with no previous experience. So I called the novice coach and started coming to practices,” said McGee.
McGee was one of about 100 women who try out for the team, which is narrowed down to around 70. She immediately found a place on the team. She was a member of the V4+ team that placed second at the Big Ten Championships her freshman year.
Since her sophomore year, she has been a member of the 1V8 team. The team finished second at the petite finals of the Big Ten Championships her sophomore year. Last year, the boat ended the season ranked 20th nationally. They finished second in the petite finals at the Central Regional’s.
This past weekend, the 1V8 boat finished second at the petite finals of the Big Ten meet.
Having that stroke stability is something Coach Kowal will miss when McGee graduates.
“I will also miss the rhythm she brings to the boat. It’s hard to teach the rhythm that you’d like your crew to have. She nailed it from day one. She has been a very good stroke for us,” said Kowal.
Despite the personal rewards, staying motivated during the season while going to school could be a challenge. However McGee has never had a problem with motivation.
“The biggest thing would have to be my teammates. These are people you work with everyday. Everyone puts in so much time and effort. To go through all that training with the same women everyday is really meaningful. It would be really hard to give up on them,” said McGee.
In addition to maintaining a full course load and spending time at study tables, McGee also attends up to two practices a day, which can total close to five hours. Despite the hard work involved, McGee knows her rowing experiences will be one of the most important parts of her life.
“Even now I remember past squad members and the things that made them tick. The fun times and victories we shared. The losses will maybe not be forgotten but, overshadowed by the positives and the lessons we learned from our losses,” she said.
“I will remember the amount of support the team gave me and I’m sure some of the friendships I have made will last forever.”