Share Your Story: Jeannette Stawski
The opportunity to compete as a rower at Michigan set the course, literally, for my life. It was through rowing I met my husband and established my closest circle of friends, learned about discipline, success, struggle, commitment, team, self responsibility, and saw further into myself and farther into the world then anything I have experienced. Rowing is a sport based on individual effort balanced precariously in the oars and motion of teammates.
Crew was the essence of misery on cold, wet, windy mornings, blistered hands, sore limbs, tears, competition, and frustration. Crew was the rise of the sun over the lake, raising the fog and uplifting the spirit. Crew was the trust of others with success and failure bigger than an individual effort. Crew was beauty and strength, heart and passion. Personally, I loved the feeling and anticipation of a race at the starting line. Poised, oar locked in the water, coxswain aligning the boat, I remember looking over at other five seats and planning in my head to exploit their weakness. And with the drop of a flag we were off - water splashing, oars clicking, bodies moving, coxswains screaming, muscles charging - the race was on.
My grandfather boxed and my father played football at Michigan. I grew up in a very competitive and athletic family with three brothers. When I wore my letter jacket home my dad got his out of the basement closet, put it on and we sang the Victors. I savor to this day the time and feelings of wearing my varsity jacket and standing pre-football game at center field and finding my parents in the stands. Being a Big Ten athlete is something that is unique, special, and undoubtably a priviledge.
Thanks for the opportunity.