Lessons Learned from Rowing

Launch of the Rowing Season

On Thursday evening of this week, the launch of the Rowing season was hosted by the Heyington Club at the Schools’ Rowing sheds at Mercantile. I share for you a recent article I read about the Lessons I learned from crew that have nothing to do with rowing (full article available here).

I started rowing in college in 2004 because a friend in one of my Spanish classes told me about it and I was craving a good exercise and an outlet for my competitive side. Rowing was the perfect answer. I rowed from the winter of my second year all the way through my second senior year of college. Then, unable to get enough, picked it up again as a rowing coach from 2009–2013.

Rowing combines teamwork, dedication and workouts that could make even the strongest person tear up. In addition to finding a school of fish in a big ocean that was (is) Ohio State University; I learned a lot of things that are EASILY transferable to life in general. These may be more than lessons, mantras perhaps.


This aspect of rowing is the crux of the sport. Unless the boat of choice is a one-person single, it is imperative that the entire crew work as a team, at all times. And not just working toward one goal, but doing the same things in perfect synchronisation. The more alike each movement of each person, the faster the boat goes. Despite differences in personalities, abilities, or attitudes, working together propels the boat faster and more efficiently. 

Never underestimate

Anyone. The people I have met because of and in the rowing community amaze me and have set the tone for how I approach new relationships. Rowing, as a sport, teaches many things, but this I take the most for granted. People in general are capable of such giant things if provided the chance to prove themselves. I think the biggest travesty is when I don’t apply this to myself. I try to remember what I have done and accomplished in spite of my preconceived notions of what my abilities and goals should be/were.

“Early is on time, on time is late and late is left”

Let me tell you, being early to a 5:30 a.m. launch time is a daunting task at best, but that is where the day’s prep all happened. Warm-ups, boat assignments, stretching, etc. were all necessary parts of practice and Coach noticed if you rolled in “on time.” Now, if I agree to meet friends at a bar or for dinner, I am perpetually the first one there. Because of crew, being late now makes me anxious. This one does not apply to the concept of “fashionably late,” that is intentional.

Choppy water makes you appreciate flat water

Both a metaphor for life and a literal statement as it pertains to rowing. When the wind picks up, the water can get pretty choppy. Rowing on those days meant soaked clothes, beat up hands and a frustrating practice. But damn, if choppy water doesn’t, A. teach a rower to appreciate calm, flat water, and B. make rowers more skilled. In life, as in rowing, the hard times are difficult and we may want to cancel those days, but when it all boils down, they make the good days that much more enjoyable and prepare the unskilled for greatness.

Take a break and look around once in awhile

I got scolded once or twice as a rower and then did some scolding myself as a coach about “keeping your head in the boat.” Rowing takes a lot of focus and attention to detail to stay in sync with the others in your boat. Sometimes though, the surroundings were just too breathtaking not to inhale. That’s what happens when you are awake for the sunrise six days a week. Now, even though I don’t see the sun come up everyday, I try to take a moment or two to appreciate the beauty of nature or of life’s interactions.

Rowing was such an important part of my life, and the list I have made here only just scratches the surface of what I learned about myself and about life from the years I spent involved with the sport.

This post is dedicated to the coaches, teammates, and rowers I coached who taught me these lessons. I am indebted to you for helping to make me the person I am today.

I wish all our Crews the very best for the Rowing season ahead.

Staff News

Over the course of Term 4, the School is undertaking the final recruitment to complete the staffing matrix in preparation for 2017. In recent weeks, the School has received a resignation from Head of Languages, Ms Corinne Buzza. Corinne has served the Language Faculty as a French teacher for nine and a half years and, most recently, in the role as the Head of Faculty for four years. Her commitment over this time has included leading many trips to France with our Senior students and she has continued to foster the partnerships with our two Exchange Sister Schools, Centre Madeleine Daniélou, Rueil-Malmaison and Cours Fénelon, Toulon.

Also finishing at the end of the year will be our Senior School Head of Sport, Mr Chris Jones. Chris commenced at St Catherine’s in 2014 and, since this time, has overseen the significant development of the Sporting program at St Catherine’s.

During this time, the School has successfully gained selection for GSV Division 1 Cross Country, Swimming, Diving and Athletics Championships; we were also one of only four schools (from 24) to achieve this position. Chris also introduced the Celebration in Sport Breakfast to recognise and acknowledge the girls’ achievements each year. The introduction of Friday morning Boot Camp and an Athlete Care profile has also improved the fitness and wellbeing of many students.

Both Mr Jones and Ms Buzza have travelled well over an hour to St Catherine’s each day and will look forward to additional family time made possible by relocating their work closer to home.

Bernadette Balanco has completed a 12 month contract with the Humanities Department and will be taking up a teaching position at another school. We wish her well and thank her for her fine contribution to St Catherine’s School.

And finally, Ms Gwen Hackel, also in the Language Faculty, will leave at the close of the School year. Ms Hackel has been instrumental in the development of the student led, A Team, as part of our Wellbeing program, and worked diligently to engender a love of participation in both the classroom and as a Head of House this year. The initiatives in the A Team has enabled a mix of Year groups to socialise through friendly and inclusive lunchtime activities. The School wishes Ms Hackel well in her career journey.

In 2017, I welcome Ms Kanako Yokouchi in the role as Year 7 Dean. As a Humanities and Japanese teacher, and our current Year 8 Dean, Kanako looks forward to meeting, in the coming weeks, all students commencing in the Year 7 cohort next year at the Orientation Days, and at their individual transition interview. After nine years as the Year 7 Dean, Mrs Jenny Molloy will transition with her current cohort to Year 8 and looks forward to leading the girls through their second year of their Senior School journey. This will include leadership of their exciting Exchange program with Schools in Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide.

As the 2016 Year 12 Dean, Mrs Gina Peele has commenced her role in the Senior Leadership Team, as Director of Student Programs and Ms Elizabeth Ryan will move to the role of Year 11 Dean upon her return from her Teacher Exchange in the USA. In an acting capacity, Ms Lilly Dusting will oversee the Year 11 cohort next year in Semester One. As with all our staff, the professional development of our Deans is something the School considers essential to their wellbeing roles, and with the guidance of Director of Student Wellbeing, Ms Merran O’Connor, each member of the Dean’s team is well versed to support students and parents through their schooling years.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate, Physical Education teacher Mr Brad Hicks and his wife, Louise, on the safe arrival of their second son, Charlie Lewis, and I wish Head of Drama, Ms Tessa Dunstan and Miss Candice Leonard, Physical Education Teacher the very best as they both commence maternity leave. We look forward to hearing the exciting news of the arrival of their children. It is also with great pleasure that we welcome Sally Wilkinson back to the Humanities Department from Maternity Leave.

Michelle Carroll

Mrs Michelle Carroll