I’m being heavily recruited to a few top tier men’s rowing programs (UW, Cal, Princeton) to cox. I’m obviously really incredibly thrilled but I’m also so nervous and afraid that I’m really not good enough to do well on that level. Do you have any suggestions for boosting self confidence when it comes to the whole recruiting process? I know they’re recruiting me for a reason, but I just don’t know if I’m that good.
UW? Cal? Princeton? You’re good. Those programs don’t mess around and like you said, they’re recruiting you for a reason. What I’ve learned over the years though is that there’s really just no point in thinking you aren’t good when you have people around you telling you that you are. They wouldn’t be saying it if they didn’t believe it and if you weren’t giving them some reason to think it.
I’m reading “Boys in the Boat” (highly recommend) and there was something I read the other day that describes coxswains much more eloquently and soulfully than I ever could.
“From the moment the shell is launched, the coxswain is the captain of the boat. He or she must exert control, both physical and psychological, over everything that goes on in the shell. Good coxes know their oarsmen inside and out – their individual strengths and vulnerabilities – and they know how to get the most out of each man at any given moment. They have the force of character to inspire exhausted rowers to dig deeper and try harder, even when all seems lost. They have an encyclopedic understanding of their opponents, how they like to race, when they are likely to start sprinting, when they like to lie in wait, etc.
Before a regatta, the cox receives a race plan from the coach and he or she is responsible for carrying it out faithfully. But in a situation as fluid and dynamic as a crew race, circumstances often change abruptly and race plans must be thrown overboard. The cox is the only person in the shell who is facing forward and can see how the field is shaping up throughout a race, and he or she must be prepared o react quickly to unforeseen developments. When a race plan is failing to yield results, it is up to the cox to come up with a new one, often in a split second, and to communicate it quickly and forcefully to the crew. Often this involves a lot of shouting and emotion.
In short, a good coxswain is a quarterback, a cheerleader, and a coach all in one. He or she is a deep thinker, canny like a fox, inspirational, and in many cases the toughest person in the boat.”
You would not be being recruited by some of the top programs in the country if you didn’t do and embody every single thing in that paragraph. You just wouldn’t so stop doubting yourself. You’re not jumping straight from high school into the varsity eight. You’re not expected to be that level of amazing yet. You have plenty of time to soak up as much information as you can, learn from every practice, race, and experience you have, and get to that level. Right now you’re at the level that they want for their freshmen program and given the schools you listed, you know their standards are pretty high. They wouldn’t be pursuing you if they didn’t think you met and have the potential to surpass those standards.
You have to believe that you’ve got some talent otherwise why would you have applied to those schools, academics aside? Whenever you’re starting something new there’s always going to be those seeds of doubt that pop up and make you question everything but the key is knowing how to shut them down immediately by reminding yourself of all the positive attributes you have that have gotten you this far and will continue to take you places in the future. You’ve got them, it’s just about reminding yourself of what they are. Stop questioning yourself and start believing in yourself.