Like many other members of the crew team at the University of Tampa, freshman Emilee Tollefson had never rowed before joining the team.
What started out as a not so realistic idea between friends to join the team became reality for Tollefson.
‘We all joked about joining the crew team, and then my suitemate and I actually did it.’
Born in Saudi Arabia, Tollefson had never lived in the United States until deciding to attend UT. She split up her time in high school between Shanghai, China and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
‘My hometown is pretty much wherever my family is, I don’t really have a hometown,’ she explained.
For Tollefson, crew was never a popular sport while she was growing up.
‘In Shanghai, volleyball, basketball and soccer were the main ones for women,’ she said. ‘I was on the swim team in Saudi [Arabia], that was a big sport for the international people.’
Although soccer was her favorite sport to play when she was younger, she has found a new passion for crew. For a spectator, crew seems fluid and effortless as the boat glides along the water.
For a rower however, the five practices a week at 6 a.m. are what make it seem that way. For some, this would be the breaking point, but for Tollefson, who describes herself as a ‘morning person,’ the exercise is a major plus.
‘I enjoy getting a workout,’ Tollefson explains. ‘You get to know the girls and it’s fun to get to know the different girls.’
As a new member of the team, she has learned a lot about the sport and all of the hard work that goes into it.
‘You gain a skill, that’s for sure,’ said Tollefson. ‘You learn the proper techniques of how to row, and you get a workout.’
The UT crew team, who just earned themselves a trip to the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn, will compete on Saturday, April 18.
‘We’re definitely excited about this weekend,’ she said.
Olivia Glynn can be reached at email@example.com