Posted by: Staff | 01.21.2010

College Essay XXII: Hayley Yudelman ’10


The boats are lined up. The horn sounds.

Briiiiiing Briiiiinng. The race is off. The bright red lights make up the time: 6:15 AM. I jolt out of bed and onto the ground for a morning circuit of crunches, lunges, jumps, and squats. Although my muscles are stiff from the hibernation of the night, I ease through the repetitions and sets. With a push of a button my wake-up play list starts off strong with ‘Dirty Water’ by the Drop-kick Murphys. I lighten up with simultaneous dancing and karaoke, living by the saying, “Dance like no one is watching.”

All eight of us pushing together, my boat accelerates through the water.

Downstairs I prepare my usual breakfast: a three egg-white omelet sprinkled with cheddar cheese and spring onions— a light, but hearty way to fill the seemingly constant grumbling of my stomach as I head off to the train station. From the train to the school bus and off to Beaver Country Day School. Just like any other weekday. Class. Lunch. Class. English, Math, and Science.

First 500 meters down. We fight.

My advisor reels me into her office to ask how I am balancing the rigors of rowing with the demands of school and planning a community service trip to South Africa. “It really is not too hard,” I tell her, lying in part just to convince myself. Really, all it takes is some time management mixed with motivation, topped off with occasional venting sessions to my pillow. I wrap up the meeting and rush downstairs and into the car for rowing practice. My coach is not a fan of late rowers.

Almost halfway there. We muster all strength.

At rowing practice I pull up to the beautiful new Harry Parker Boathouse. The boathouse is a rower’s best friend and worst enemy, a shelter and a dungeon. The shelter contains the boats and locker rooms, while the dungeon holds the ergometers used to test fitness, but really promotes self-inflicted pain. Three of our boats just qualified for United States Youth National Championships, including my lightweight boat powered by eight rowers. We have formed a unique bond under one common goal: Let’s be National Champions.

Coach Ethan prescribes a warm-up plan and a grueling workout consisting of eight, two-minute pieces. Each piece is an all out sprint, and there is no stopping unless someone becomes deathly ill. It is inevitable to encounter pain during the practice, but that is why it is imperative to learn to ignore pain because in rowing, as only the strongest survive. Today I find that my throat has been sandpapered down and cement has been injected into my thighs, but I cannot let that get to me. Therefore, I have learned to embrace pain. It is a demanding task, but in the end, the survivors are the winners, and in the sport of rowing, winning is everything: Let’s be National Champions.

With every stroke, we move closer and closer. Who is going to win?

I am fairly irritable after practice due to fatigue and hunger. Dinner takes care of one of those as I literally inhale some salmon, rice pilaf, and asparagus. I wash that down with orange juice mixed with water and ice accompanied by a couple of vitamins. It is the first winter I have not become sick, and I can firmly thank the vitamins for keeping my immunity up and the tissues down. I head upstairs to begin homework, which consists of a few pages of math problems, a paper on dystopia, studying for a French test, and writing a chemistry lab report. “MOMMY COME SAY GOODNIGHT TO ME!” my younger sister screams in the background. I try to block out the noise by playing some mellow music. I eventually finish my homework, and complete my nightly bedtime routine.

It comes down to the last few strokes. Empty the energy tanks.

As I switch off the lights and head off to sleep, a mix of satisfaction and fatigue acts as an anesthetic and quickly my body and mind are at rest.

Exhausted. Exhilarated. Relieved. This race is over, for now.


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