From Bow to Stern: Get to Know Sarah McAuliffe
Sophomore rower Sarah McAuliffe

March 7, 2013

By: Courtney Fritts

One of the many unique qualities about the sport of rowing is that in order to letter in Division-One rowing, an athlete really isn't required to have trained in rowing their whole lives or even be recruited to a university.

Rowing is special because an athlete can walk on the team through the novice program and with the right work ethic, motivation and strength, can compete with the best of varsity in less than a year.

Sophomore rower Sarah McAuliffe joined the Lady Vol Rowing Novice squad her first semester at Tennessee and says it has changed her life since the first day of tryouts.

"I was a novice last year and I got a letter in the mail and I thought it would be cool to be a D-1 athlete. During tryouts, I really just wanted to impress Coach Arms. When we found out we made the team, it was a great feeling. Making it through novice year and being there, racing alongside Varsity when they won conference last year was great because I just wanted to find the same glory that I saw in them. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to keep competing on this team for as many years as I could."

If you had to describe yourself to someone, what would you say?
"I am a pretty positive person. I like looking at the bright side of things so that I don't dwell on bad things. I apply it to both school & sports and it leads to hard work."

What is the single biggest thing that's shaped your life?
"Sports has definitely been the biggest impact, as cliché as that is. It's helped develop the person that I am from youth sport in recreational leagues to high school athletics and now, sports has changed my life by getting an opportunity to row in college. Athletics sets your priorities straight and has made me who I am today."

What is your major?
"I'm majoring in Sport Management with a minor in Spanish. I'm not a big science or English person and obviously, because of my love for sports and my love for organizing and event planning has shown me that I chose the right path. Hopefully I will work out in a career one day. My dream job is to work in the NFL as either a head of operations or someone in event planning and team traveling. My dream would be to work for the New England Patriots, but that's a minor detail."

How important is your hometown to you?
"I'm from Millis, Mass., a small town outside of Boston. My high school's motto is "Small town, big family." Everyone knows everyone there and it really develops a close relationship between everyone in the town. I know that anytime I go home, I can rely on anyone and everyone there. Coming from a small school, it's hard to compete with other high schools that have more options. While we didn't have the best facilities, we just worked with what we had and it made me better because we were all working not only to make a name for ourselves, but also to make a small town like Millis have a better name. When we raced at the Head of the Charles in Boston this year, it was awesome flying into the airport and seeing my family there. I watched the Charles Regatta growing up there, so racing in it was an unbelievable and amazing experience."

What has been your favorite memory at UT?
"All of my memories come right back to rowing because I'm practicing or with my teammates all the time. From football and basketball games to coming to work out in the football complex and practicing - it's all I know here. All the athlete benefits are my life, really."

Do you see yourself as a leader on your team?
"I feel like I've had to prove myself from the beginning of joining varsity, because most of these girls have been rowing since high school, so I never want to be the weakest link or bring them down. I want to help bring them up and bring all of us up as a team."

What has been your biggest difference in novice and varsity?
"There was definitely a huge learning curve. Novice year, you learn all about the sport - such as knowing the difference between starboard (left side) and port (right side) and then for varsity you learn so much more technique and body awareness. In novice, you just do what you know and hope for the best. The mental toughness is important - it's by far the most mental sport I've ever competed in. Keeping that strong mental attitude is crucial when you think you've had enough in the last minute of a piece but you still have to keep going."

If you could, would you change anything in your life?
"No, everything has worked out in a way that I never believed it would. I never thought I would be here and I'm extremely happy where I am."

What would it mean to you to go to nationals this year?
"Oh my gosh, I can't even imagine. Knowing how much work we have put in, proving that hard work really does pay off and seeing my teammates get to that level would be insane. I think that any individual can help push the team forward and everyone has such a strong role on our team. I just always try to keep my positive attitude when times get tough and I try to always show that by example during hard workouts. Just pushing through every day shows we really can do it, if we do it together. I try to do that in practice as much as possible and we help each other do that.

With just over two weeks until their season opener, McAuliffe and the rest of her teammates try to keep the same positive attitude by only dwelling on the good things and pushing through every second of practice to better themselves both mentally and physically.

"With our season-opener against Minnesota, I'm looking forward to seeing all of our hard work pay off against another team finally. The last 500 of the race is going to be exciting where we can all become mentally strong and push through the finish line for the first time as this team."





  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago