by Ruby Lyon
For our student-athletes, May is a month full of fun, commitment, and prioritizing. Our two biggest races, New York States and Northeast Regionals, arrive back-to-back. In addition, Regents exams, a test all NYC students are required to pass to receive their high school diplomas, are only a few short weeks away. Students must put on their game faces for race day and continue to complete their homework on time, all while preparing for one of their biggest tests of the year. Impressive.
We know this is a challenge. That’s why, starting in the fall, not only do students go through rigorous physical training for their sport, but they also receive academic and time management support. Over the course of a year, they will engage in between 750-1000 hours of competitive rowing paired with academics, college readiness, and career exposure activities. The sport of rowing teaches delayed gratification, as do our wrap-around academic sessions. Starting this week and going into June, high school students are offered two days of Regents preparation per week, focusing on algebra, the living environment, geometry, and earth science. The program is designed for students to pick and choose what to focus on based on their needs. Working in small tutor-led groups, students dissect and analyze old Regents tests. Instead of providing the answers, we try to move closer to explaining how we arrive at an answer. After our athletes complete Regent testing, we collect their scores, along with their report cards, to continually monitor all of our successes.
For our older students, they know the necessary steps to keep their life balanced at the end of the school year. “We’re all guilty of staying at home that Monday after the weekend-long races because we’re too exhausted to get out of bed. And so, the days before a race should be taken to actually do homework (knowing that you won’t do much during the race days) and maybe even trying to get the work for Monday and doing it beforehand. That way, when you come back, you won’t feel like you’ve missed a month and a half.” – Deborah Pantaleon, Row New York alumna ‘15
To see how our younger rowers are holding up during their first year, we caught up with Queens novice rower, Lilian. You may recall her interview from this fall when she was just starting out.
How is the spring season going?
The spring season is going good, it’s a lot of hard work but I’m pushing through. I’m taking two Regents: algebra and the living environment.
Have you taken Regents before?
No, it’s my first year.
How are you balancing everything right now, with a big race this weekend and Regents tests coming up?
It’s really, really hectic. But I try to separate both the things in my head. Prioritize to do my school work and then getting my game face on for the race, and then going to back to school work. So I balance them.
Do you feel like the fall season prepared you for this, that it gave you the time management skills you needed?
Yes. The fall and definitely the winter too – we were training harder in the winter. Being tired is no excuse for not doing your homework. I am focused.
How are you feeling about New York States this weekend?
I’m bow seat. I’m really excited since it’s our first big race I hope we get to race more than once – that means we’re really good! We came in fourth in our heat at Long Island Championships, and seventh overall out of 18 teams. So we did really good.
Do you feel like you’re going to take lessons learned at Long Island Championships to States?
Definitely. I’m going to stay focused, keep my mind in the boat, and listen to one coxswain, not the others.
Oh, were you listening to the other boats go by at Long Island Championships?
Yeah, because they were really loud. Some of them were playing music, but I was trying to focus. Our coxswain really helped us. Her voice is powerful and it motivated us.
What motivates you when you’re tired and you still need to do your homework?
Just the thought of finishing high school and then going to college, because I want to be the first in my family to actually finish college. My brother went but then he stopped because he wanted to play baseball. I want to go, I want to finish, get my degree, and get a good job. So that’s what I put in my head.
You’re on a mission!
It’s a lot of high pressure right now, and you are putting pressure on yourself to do well and succeed. How do you balance the pressure of the upcoming race with the pressures of school and Regents?
I just separate it. School is one thing, and rowing is another thing. When it’s time for Row, it’s time for Row. When it’s time for school, it’s time for school. On the way to the race, I’ll focus on my work on the bus. But then when we are approaching the race course I try and focus, and think, “OK it’s time for the race, it’s time to do this.” And then AFTER the race, I go back into school mode.
Are you bringing textbooks with you this weekend?
Yes. I’m bringing all my homework. I’m asking my teachers for homework in advance so I can stay on top of it.
Do you think this is how you would handle school work if you hadn’t joined Row New York? Did you learn something new after joining?
I definitely learned something, because this sport, it teaches you discipline. It teaches you things have to get done in order for you to succeed. I don’t think I would be this way if it wasn’t for Row New York.
Do you know what you want to do for college yet, or are you still figuring that out?
I either want to major in psychology or neurosurgery.
We have no doubt Lilian and her team will row their hardest this weekend and continue to strive for academic success. Thank you for your insights, Lilian. You go girl! We are wishing all of our athletes the best of luck at their upcoming races and on their Regents tests in June. You have earned it!
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi
Here, our Varisty boy’s team prepares for States, which we are competing in tomorrow and Sunday!