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Rustemeyer gains new experiences as a freshman rower

Meghan’s headshot for her first year on the team. (Courtesy of Meghan Rustemeyer)

What happens when spring comes? The snow is melting, the clouds are parting, and the trees are blooming. Spring is the season of new beginnings. It’s the season of hope, the season of rejuvenation, and the perfect season for students, businesses, and athletes to make a fresh start. Luckily for the Seattle Pacific University rowing team, their season runs through the spring of 2022.

The current list of rowers has 17 novices and 16 veterans. Among those newbies is Megan Rustemeyer, a freshman criminal justice and psychology double major. Rustemeyer was on the rowing team in the fall of 2021, during the team’s offseason. Prior to this season, Rustemeyer had never rowed before and wasn’t sure what to expect.

In rowing, there are two different types of boats: the eight-seater boat and the four-seater boat. Rustemeyer prefers to row in the eight-man boat, however, she has yet to receive a main seat. This is mainly due to his novice status, which requires him to move a lot from one sitting position to another.

“I’ve been in the four-boat and the eight-boat. Sometimes I’ll be in the racing seat, which is the person in front who determines the speed of the boat, or sometimes I’ll be in the back of the boat. It really depends on the day,” Rustemeyer said.

Entering any sport as a beginner can feel threatening; however, Rustemeyer says she has felt welcome and part of the team since her debut at the start of the school year, despite rowing alongside college rowers with years of experience ahead of her.

“There are a lot of rookies this year, and we’re all learning together, so I don’t really feel any pressure. Overall the team dynamic is really great and really encouraging,” said Rustemeyer.

Rustemeyer wasn’t an athlete in high school, so she’s relatively new to the mainstream lifestyle. His motivations for joining the team mirrored the mentality of most first years: seek new experiences and hope to have fun.

“At first, I didn’t realize how much intensity and effort it takes to be a Division II athlete. It was kind of a shock to me. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to get in a boat or move an oar… so I got a lot better at how I do things in the boat, how I work with other people and just learning how to be a good athlete in general.” said Rustemeyer.

Looking to the future, Rustemeyer looks to the rowing team veterans and hopes to become a strong athlete like them. She imagines herself to be an inspiring and encouraging person for future novices, as they are for her.

“The biggest goal we all have is to push ourselves to go faster and each other to go faster, but as far as personal goals go, I just want to see how far I can go with that, like if I could potentially be a top Athlete D-II. I want to get to a point where I’m in that college-level top eight. said Rustemeyer.

Meghan with friends Dori Hrabal, Emily McElheran, Johanna Brown, Shaye Martin and Belle Burnside at UW Cherry Blossoms. (Courtesy of Meghan Rustemeyer)

SPU’s rowing team is nationally ranked with a high ranking in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Rustemeyer says their goal at the moment is simply to qualify for the top seed in the division.

“The team’s priority every season is first to reach the final before trying to win the championship. Our primary focus would be to win championships, of course, but as the season progresses we focus on our next race and that then determines how we do in the race after that. said Rustemeyer.

It’s a mentality that’s not uncommon in sports. After all, a team must reach the final before they can attempt to become champions. As a novice, Rustemeyer’s biggest lessons from his experience so far are, firstly, to love the sport and the people around him, and secondly, to never give up or give up too easily.

“I had no idea what my body was capable of, just knowing that I can push myself and can keep improving, even when it seems like I can’t. And also rowing is as much physical than mental, so work on a good mentality like you can do more and you can do better than that. It’s just one block, and you can get away with it,” Rustemeyer said.

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