Meet Men's Rowing Coxswain Angelica Salinas

As the only female on an all male rowing team, junior Angelica Salinas has her hands full.  Salinas played many sports in high school but upon entering college she wanted to mix things up and decided to join the rowing team.  She has come a long way and is now helping to navigate the team through the championship race.

Q. How did you get involved in rowing?
A. For most of my life I have been a part of a competitive team. In high school I played a variety of sports including volleyball, basketball and track. The truth is, I knew I was not going to be able to continue any of these sports in college and was looking for other options. When I heard about rowing from a few members of the team I thought, "Ok, maybe I'll see what this is about." I went to a few practices and was instantly hooked. 

Q. What is it like being part of an all male team?
A. It's funny because I get this question a lot, but I'm never quite sure how to answer it. I don't really see myself as a "girl" on an all male team. I grew up with a brother and lots of male cousins I was always around - so I'm actually really comfortable in the environment. I think my personality fits well with the team because I don't see myself as different from them, but just as another teammate. I'll be honest though; being a girl with a team full of guys does have its perks. They take care of me, and a lot of times it's like having a bunch of older brothers. 

Q. What is the most rewarding part of rowing?
A. My role as a coxswain is one of the most unique roles in sports in my opinion. I didn't join the team to stay in shape, so like some people, the reward isn't physical. I don't think some people will ever understand why I wake up at 5:30 in the morning just to sit in a boat, but for me, it's much more than that. The reward comes from getting to know and understand the guys in my boat and figuring out what inspires them. I'd like to think that during a race the calls I make and words I say help push them to their limit and past it. The best feeling is after a race having a guy in my boat come up to me and tell me that when I said this, they pulled harder than they thought they could. 

Q. As the season is soon coming to an end what are your hopes for the team?
A. I think at the beginning of the year most of us were not sure what to expect. We graduated a lot of seniors last year and had a lot of young guys and new faces entering varsity. Our top boat is completely different than last year. That being said, as the end of our season approaches, we hope to win. I don't think anyone feels like this is not possible either. The guys in our boat are fast and we've had time to work together and row as one unit. I'm excited for our final races and even more excited for next year. We have a good group of guys coming up from the novice boat and will have a great deal of returners. 

Q. Tell me about the up coming Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta?
A. This is our championship race. We rowed our fasted time of the season a couple weekends ago at the Stanford Invitational and have had a good two weeks of practice behind since then. We will be facing other varsity programs from the west coast. In addition our JV and novice boats will also be competing. It should be an exciting weekend for everyone and hopefully we will bring back some banners. 

Q. What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while being coxswain?
A. My novice year I was freaking out before our first race. The guys tell me now that I was making them nervous with how nervous I was. Anyway, we pull up to the starting line and I'm trying to calm myself. The race starts and within the first 100 meters we are clashing oars with USC. I'm freaking out because I think I'm going straight, and I'm pretty sure I'm in my lane. The race is stopped, and as we are pulling apart from the USC boat I practically have tears in my eyes thinking that the guys are going to absolutely kill me. Just then, the race official yells, "Santa Clara coxswain, you were fine. USC coxswain, that was you're warning - stay in your lane!" Instantly I am calm and we go on to beat USC.

Q. Why and how did you choose to be the men's rowing team coxswain?
A. Initially I wanted to row for the women's team! I went to the meeting for the women and everything. They told me I'd make a great coxswain (since I'm so tiny). However, in the same room but in another area, the men's team was having their meeting. I ended up scooting over there after the meeting because I wasn't sure about anything yet. I started talking to the men's coxswains there, and I kind of just knew that was the team I wanted to be on. It was a little strange at first and took a little adjusting to because I'd always been on teams with girls, but I've never regretted my decision.