Irvine Community News & Views recently sat down with the captain of the UCI Women’s Rowing Team, Emily Huang.
Emily said, “I’m so proud to lead this team! The UCI Women’s Rowing Team is made up of some of the most dedicated and hardworking athletes on campus. We have girls that are only here for the year from as far away as Korea or Europe, and yet they choose to spend part of their short time in the U.S. on our team. That’s how committed they are to the sport. And those who are here at UCI all four years come from all over the state and from all walks of life.”
Emily continued, “Members of our team are studying Biology, Economics, Psychology, Computer Science, and English. The thing that we all have in common is that we come from a background in sports and most of us had never rowed a day in our lives before attending UC Irvine. Every single girl on our team has started at the same level. We’ve all grown together to build this strong and competitive team.”
Emily told us that competing in a race for the first time is one of the most exhilarating environments to be a part of. She said, “You can feel the energy radiating off the water as you fly through with every stroke. And rowing has instilled a tremendous amount of discipline in each of us. We wake up every morning at 5am and practice before the sun rises, six days a week. In addition to our commitment to the team and a packed school schedule, many of us also have a job so we have acquired excellent time management skills.”
Over the past few years, the team has won three national titles. However, due to athletic department cuts, the UCI Women’s Rowing Team is no longer a NCAA sport, which means that the team must fund their own travel and competition fees for regional competitions in Sacramento and national competitions in Gainesville, Georgia. Due to the lack of funding, the team is forced to borrow equipment in order to compete and team members are required to pay for their own airline ticket, housing, transportation, and food costs.
Emily said, “The money that we receive as a club sport from the university is not nearly enough to pay for all of our travel and the equipment expenses that come with rowing. Other club sports don’t have many expenses since they typically practice at the school gym and are able to host competitions on school property. Every year we try to find outside donors to help with funding so that we can make the sport more accessible for more girls on campus. Given that we are not attending UCI on a sports scholarship, our decision to be a part of the team comes from a passion for the sport and the bond we have with our teammates.”
The team is currently training for their next big event — the California Challenge Cup. After that, the team will participate in several local and regional competitions before heading to Georgia for the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championships in May.
If you would like to support the UCI Women’s Rowing Team by making a donation, click here.
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