April 16, 2013
By: Courtney Fritts
She may not be the tallest in a crowd; she's actually most likely the shortest in a crowd, especially among her teammates. Her height doesn't correlate with her ability to grab the attention and respect of her crew, though.
Standing at 5-foot-2, freshman coxswain Harper Lucas has demanded the attention of the Varsity Eight, most recently in the Lady Vols' matchup with Ohio State and Michigan, as well as this weekend's races at the Clemson Invitational.
Lucas says she's "a competitive person, self-motivated and family-oriented."
"I'm a leader, but sometimes I can be a leader not through my words, but by my actions," Lucas said. "Since I'm a freshman, I've been trying to gain the leadership role and respect from my older teammates so they realize that I can be a leader."
And it seems that this fun-sized leader has done just that. We caught up with Lucas to answer some questions before she and her team heads to Clemson, S.C. on Thursday.
What is your major?
"Kinesiology, and I'm planning on doing physical therapy. I'm also doing an internship this summer with a physical therapist. When I'm older, I would also like to go back to my old team, Atlanta Junior Rowing Association to coach. I would want to be a head coach or assistant coach for varsity. I would try to help the coxswains, especially if they were interested in going to college for rowing, to help them develop. I've always been interested in the exercises and sport-related fields and it relates to rowing well. In high school, we had a trainer and he influenced me to go towards physical therapy, Coach Ty."
Is there one specific race that stands out to you?
"No one race has changed my life, but rowing has. Its how I've made all my friends and how I've made connections. It's how I was able to come to Tennessee. Rowing has taught me a lot of things like time management, competitiveness, being mentally tough."
How have you noticed your improvement since you came to Tennessee?
"I've improved my running by 8 or 9 minutes in the five-mile. I think I'm more of a leader this spring, and I don't worry about what other people think of me. I think I've been having more of the mindset of being a teammate at practice rather than a friend."
What is your mindset towards your coxing this season?
"I think that I've made it obvious that I don't want to stay in the pack. Every day at practice, I make sure that my boat is far enough ahead so that we look like the V8+. I think that I've demanded more from my boat and made sure that the rowers and myself aren't settling for anything. I've made sure that the coaches realize that I want to be in the Varsity 8+ and no matter what boat I'm in, I'll treat it like they're the top boat, which is why I think we were successful in the 2V8+ last weekend at Ohio State.
What are some goals for you and your boat going into the final races of the season?
"Definitely to hit the goal split. We need to treat every race from this point on like our last race of the season because there's no time to wait. We don't want to just have a strong last race at Conference, but have those strong races leading up to it. Everyone on the team needs to understand what `grittiness' actually means. In order for the top boat to be successful, the bottom boat has to be there, pushing us."
Do you have a favorite memory at UT?
"Athletic events, football and basketball games are my favorite. The school spirit is really fun and rowing as well. Athletics has really shaped me."
If you had a super power, what would it be?
"I would definitely want to fly. You could be anywhere right away, especially for morning practice, if you woke up late."
As a final statement before she left, Lucas mentioned what being a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee is like. She said that without rowing, she wouldn't have had an opportunity as prestigious as this one.
"It's a great honor to be a student-athlete here."