Having dedicated a large portion of my high school years to sports, I have heard over and over again how the lessons learned on the field, or in my case on the water, can be applied significantly to your life outside of training and competition. One of the most common responses I get when people discover that I am a rower, besides “oh, you must be strong”, is “rowing must teach you a lot about life”. I frequently experienced the truth in this statement firsthand while navigating my way through secondary school. However, it was not until recently that I got to see how accurate it is in the real world as well.
Being involved in an activity where teamwork, dedication, and hard work are vital to success, I have been exposed to the true meaning and value of all of these concepts daily. I know that every stroke I take is affecting the others in my boat and that in order to go our fastest it will require us focusing on the team as a whole, not just ourselves. I know that races are not just won on the weekends, but instead in the early morning gym sessions, the cold and rainy practices and the extra workouts and recovery at home. I know that committing and dedicating yourself completely to a goal is the only way to truly accomplish what you want. I know that pain is temporary and that when you put in the work, the reward or victory will be that much sweeter. I know that even when a situation gets tough and all you want to do is accept defeat and lay down the handle, if it means something to you, it is worth it to keep pushing through to the finish line.
This fall I made the transition from the water to the office by accepting an internship at the Women’s Sports Foundation. Through this experience, I have been able to see firsthand how the lessons of sport are truly applicable in the development of one’s professional career.
As a recent high school graduate, I took a risk with this internship. I had no real prior experience in this branch of the professional world and knew I was going to have to prove myself every day. However, because of my experiences as an athlete and as a rower I had the confidence to know that I could do this. From sports, I have learned that taking a risk is okay. Failure may be one outcome, but so may be success. I had the confidence from hours spent in training to know that I can work hard and contribute productively to a group. It was with this confidence that I was able to move forward and embark on this incredibly rewarding experience.
Upon my arrival I was introduced to all of the members of the WSF team. An incredibly warm and welcoming group, it was evident from the first hello that teamwork is at the root of the Foundation, and the working world as a whole. I have witnessed how the collaboration of ideas, thoughts and work is essential to a significant outcome. The skill of working with others and knowing that the team comes first is no longer just applicable to when I am on the water. Now I am using it while brainstorming for future projects, completing tasks with those surrounding me and being available to help in whatever way is needed.
I am in an environment where everyone is committed to ensure that all projects they are putting out to the world are the best they can possibly be. People are willing to arrive early and stay late to get a job done well. While this kind of work ethic may have seemed daunting to some, because of my experiences with sport it seems normal. I have grown accustomed to expecting this level of effort and focus in my athletic life, so transitioning to my newly entered professional life seems completely natural. When given a task that seems difficult, I am able to draw upon my understanding of perseverance from sports to give myself the strength to proceed forward. As an athlete, these concepts have become second nature to me. Now in the working world, it is only fitting that I am able to draw upon them to succeed further.
The skills and lessons I have learned from my time in sports have allowed me to make the most of my opportunity as an intern with the Women’s Sports Foundation. I have had the chance to play a role in some the Foundation’s amazing events and meet incredible people. Hearing these athletes’ stories I am inspired to keep working for my goals both on and off the water. It makes me so grateful that I have been fortunate enough to compete in the activity I love and further ignites the spark within me to continue to fight to get out, get active, and experience the power of sport in every facet of my life.