The Learning Curve

Michigan State University recognizes that an assortment of interests, viewpoints, and life experiences are important in student learning and enhance the university community. Describe an experience, passion, or characteristic that illustrates what you would contribute to the MSU community and how this will add to the overall richness of campus life.

I carefully stepped down the steep gravel hill, making my way to the riverbank for my very first crew practice. The early March air chilled my skin and whipped my hair. I was nervous: each rocky step took me closer to a mass of athletic limbs, all belonging to talented rowers I didn’t know.

The next two and a half hours went as poorly as I had imagined. Our task for the day was to run a mile in under twenty minutes. The novices ran as a group, and it took us three tries to finally make the cut off. After repeated laps, pounding the grass under the hot sun, I was more physically drained than ever before.

The entirety of my inaugural crew season was as shaky as my legs after the first day of training. However, no matter how difficult the practices became, I adored the sport. I felt that I could someday succeed in what seemed impossible, if only I worked towards my goal. So over time, I increased my training and extended my efforts outside of practice. I sipped carrot juice until it actually started tasting good and flipped through books on nutrition instead of TV channels. I made sacrifices, often foregoing social events or sleep for an extra weight lifting session, early morning run, or sixty minute erg piece. I have never once regretted my choices. Since my unsteady beginnings, I have become a top ranked rower, a varsity captain, a coach, and a strong, confident individual.

The same hill I once precariously stepped down I now sprint up for weekly warmups. The athletes who once seemed mysterious and intimidating are now my close friends, and my mile time is a solid eight minutes. Yet I can still vividly recall the challenges I faced in my first season: today, these memories help me lead and coach new rowers through similar frustrations. Though much of my development and growth in the realm of rowing has been athletic, crew has shaped my personality as a whole. I cannot say for certain if I will immediately succeed in my next step towards adulthood. However, I have the knowledge, and confidence, that I can tackle any difficulties. And I have the determination to continue to help others do the same.

Leave a Comment