May 3, 2004
Jasmine Pickler has found her match as a member of the crew team at Michigan State.
"I think it's the perfect sport for me," she says, "and I think I've been able to excel because rowing fits my body type and height. I love that it's a total team sport and we only do well if everyone works together."
Despite her deep enthusiasm for rowing, Pickler is a newcomer to the sport. In high school, Pickler participated in swimming and cross country. In fact, before arriving in East Lansing, she had never been in a crew boat or spent quality time on a training 'erg'. It was a friend already on the Spartan crew team who turned her on to rowing and it didn't take long for Pickler to get hooked.
"I tried out, made the team, worked hard, and I've loved it ever since."
Pickler began her career on MSU's novice boat and steadily worked her way to the varsity eight crew. She sits in the fourth seat while rowing, one of the positions known as the 'engine room' of the boat.
Now a junior, Pickler has found a second interest at Michigan State- advertising. Prior to pursuing a degree in advertising, Pickler had been studying art education. She was a member of the National Art Society in high school and had enjoyed experimenting with several projects, including the construction of a life-sized paper machete sculpture modeled after her self. Advertising has allowed Pickler to combine her love of art with an interest in business.
The academic schedule, combined with 20 hours a week of training, is a challenge that all student-athletes face. Thus far, Pickler has not only mastered the balancing act, she seems to thrive on it.
"The planner is key!" she explains. "I know when things are coming up and I try to get as much done ahead of time as I can. I think for me it's actually easier to be busy because I had a hectic schedule in high school too."
But not everything has come easy for the Michigan native, as Pickler is forced to battle asthma while out on the water. Not being able to breathe while competing in a sport could be enough to drive an athlete away from competition.
Admittedly, the asthma was hard to deal with at first. However, after several visits to doctors and a little bit of time, Pickler now knows how to manage her problem.
"I've learned that I can deal with it," she says. "I've also learned to calm down when something happens and I know that I can get through it."
Her fellow Spartans also help Pickler to become a better rower, one reason, she says, why she loves the sport so much.
"In rowing, the victories are so amazing because each win is like a victory times eight, and my teammates are so cool!" she laughs. "That's probably why we don't get a lot of publicity, because there isn't one person on a team who can really stand out."
Pickler's enthusiasm for rowing exemplifies the advice that she leaves for young athletes who also have big dreams.
"Work hard. But most importantly, do what you love."