We asked some of our current and former team members about how being on our team affected their college experience, and why the sport of rowing is important to them.
Continue scrolling to read some personal anecdotes from a variety of our team members: some alumni whose rowing experience helped them get a job out of college, or some current team members who found a home with Georgia Rowing after coming from out of state or as transfer students.
Hannah James on "What Rowing Means to Me"
What rowing means to me: it means family. It means hard work. It means dedication. It means commitment. It means happiness.
Family: I listed family first because every time someone asks me about Rowing my friends are the first things that pop into my head, followed by an overwhelming wave of sadness that my rowing days have come to an end. Rowing gave me friends that will last for a lifetime. It gave me something that I miss everyday and that I will always cherish and look back on with the fondest memories. It bonds groups of people like nothing else really can. It’s the ultimate team sport and it has allowed me to trust my friends and teammates on such a deeper level than anything else could offer.
Hard-work, Dedication and Commitment: Rowing is probably one of the toughest and most mentally challenging experiences out there, but it is so rewarding to see hard work pay off. Rowing has helped me develop these three characteristics that I can take with me throughout grad school, my career and really every other aspect of life.
Happiness: It not only gave me the best memories that I will cherish forever and something that I wish I was doing everyday, but it also gave me lifelong happiness in the sense that it changed my lifestyle. I was not athletic, in shape, or really all that healthy in high school. Rowing gave me an outlet to work on my body, mind and health and now I continue to be in excellent physical shape even after graduating. It gave me the mindset of always wanting to try to be better and work on my weaknesses and that is something that I will carry on with for the rest of my life.
In short, Rowing is the best decision I have ever made and it 100% made me into the person that I am today. I will always be thankful for this team and this sport.
Hannah James, class of 2017
Makenzie Grilliot on Joining Rowing as an Out of State Student
A few months before I graduated high school I remember thinking about how drastically my life was about to change. I was going to be leaving the classmates I went to kindergarten with, the sport I had always been a part of, and the only state I had ever lived in, alone.
As a freshman from Ohio, I knew I needed to get involved in something on campus to help me make friends and feel like UGA was home. I had heard about rowing, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit to a sport after being so involved in gymnastics. However, I couldn’t stay away! To my surprise, as soon as I went to rowing tryouts I started seeing familiar faces walking around campus. The first few weeks I was apprehensive about the types of workouts we would be doing on the team, the practice schedule, and the regattas, but after learning to embrace the “newness”, I started to really see the team come together.
After a few regattas, I had made great friends on the team both at practices, and during competitions. We began to take the technique that we had learned and started turning it into more challenging workouts. I noticed I love the feeling of finishing a hard practice or race alongside my teammates. Accomplishments are so much more meaningful when the hard work is shared with your best friends. Fast forward a year and a half, and I have gotten to meet even more amazing people! I have been welcomed to several of my teammates’ homes here in Georgia, and I know I always have their families’ help and support!
The past two years have taught me so much both on and off the water, and I can’t imagine college without rowing. I get to continue my passion for working out, spend time with my best friends, and represent my school at the same time. No matter who you are or where you come from, the team is ready to accept you with open arms! ROW DAWGS!
Makenzie Grilliot, Class of 2020
Karsten Holmquist on How Rowing Helped Him Get a Job
Trying out for rowing (and sticking with it) was the most impactful decision I made during my time at the University of Georgia. In rowing I found a competitive outlet, a vehicle for self-improvement, some of my closest friends, countless memories…and a job.
In 2012, as a 17 year-old freshman, I hoped to follow in family footsteps and join a fraternity. But, after two semesters of rush, bid, decline, repeat, I realized that Greek life wasn’t for me. I enjoyed seeing Todd Gurley tear up the field in the fall, studied hard, and partied harder. I enjoyed every part of freshman year, but as my 2nd year began, I felt like my college experience needed a twist that made it unique and worth talking about.
One day I was given a flyer between classes and, on a whim, showed up at tryouts with a couple of friends. I was hooked immediately. Not to rowing (we didn’t touch a boat for weeks), but to that other thing…the intensity, the fierce competition, the camaraderie. From early on, I was told that Olympic rowers often started the sport in college, and that “you get out what you put in.” I loved the idea of measuring “me against me” during training and then bringing it all together with a team in the boat.
During my first year rowing, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by athletes and coaches that pushed me outside my comfort zone. The result was a silver medal at our southeastern regional championships and a 4th place finish at our national championship regatta. The next year, I took on a leadership position as one of the team’s Finance Officers, and learned that the team had more to offer than just athletic competition. In my role, I got the opportunity to manage a $100,000+ budget, negotiate contracts, and lobby the university for additional funding. This experience directly contributed to my internship the next summer at a private wealth management firm.
For my Senior year, I was honored to serve as Captain of the Men’s team and had the incredible opportunity to represent UGA at the world’s largest 2-day regatta, the prestigious “Head of The Charles” in Boston. There, alongside my closest friends, we survived the cut in front of tens of thousands of spectators, placing high enough to earn the team an automatic invitation to the following year’s race.
It’s important to note, though, that what turned out to be a fruitful rowing career had very humble beginnings. I struggled with some of the more…basic parts of the sport for quite some time. I’m told the video evidence of my misfortune is shown at a team meeting each year, as a lesson that how you finish is more important than how you start (but mostly because its funny; seriously, search “UGA Rowing Head of the South” on Youtube and go to minute 4:00).
All this to say, my experiences with the rowing team were the ones that made my time at UGA truly unique and, when the time came, they were also the source of nearly all of my responses to questions at job interviews. In the years since graduating, the person responsible for hiring me has told me face-to-face that “Men’s Captain – UGA Rowing” was the single most important thing on my resume.
But the best part is, I’m still making memories with the family I built in the boat, and will be for the rest of my life.
Finance and International Business (2016)
Zebulon Page on Joining Rowing as a Transfer Student
When I first got to UGA, I already had a solid group of friends from high school that I would hang out with, but decided I needed to get more involved on campus and not be huddled in my house the entire time I stay here. One day I was walking by Tate to class and a girl came up to me and handed me a rowing flyer. At first, I was not even considering the sport and was going to throw it away once I got home. But, I held onto it and kept thinking about what joining the team would be like and if I’d really enjoy it. I was looking for something that would keep me active and allow me to workout consistently and rowing fit that pretty well. Also, my brother had rowed in college and would always brag about how he was better than me at it, so I decided to give it a shot just so I could beat him.
Tryouts week came by and I found some people that were pretty similar to me right off the bat; they enjoyed sports and working out and wanted to be the best on the team. Within the first few practices I already had a good group of new friends and found that wherever I went on campus, there was at least one other person on the rowing team around, and it helped me not feel overwhelmed by the large campus. I actually ended up finding one of my best friends while rowing, and we ended up rooming together for the year.
Overall, my decision to join the rowing team has been one of the best decisions I have made while in school. I’m able to continue working out and represent UGA at a national level in the process. I’ve been able to make some lifelong friends and have learned to love the sport! The smartest decision I’ve made in these past two years was to give rowing a shot, and I haven’t regretted it. If you’re looking for a way to channel your competitive side, or are just looking to make a great group of friends, then rowing is the perfect club for you to join. Hope to see y’all out there with us and Row Dawgs!