By Carolyn Linck, '11
Looking forward to her final season rowing for Santa Clara University, senior Jill Walker (JW) hopes to encourage her younger teammates and push them to success. Recently www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Walker about her memories as a Bronco, her role as a senior and her goals for this season.
SCB: How did you get started in crew? Is crew a popular sport in Colorado where you grew up? What other sports did you play?
JW: In Colorado crew is not a popular sport and so I had not heard about it until my senior year of high school. I played soccer and basketball throughout grade school and really enjoyed being part of a team. When I started college, I missed the camaraderie of a team and playing sports. I was roped into trying crew by a friend who thought I would like it. As soon as I joined the team I realized that crew would give me what I had been missing and was the perfect fit for me.
SCB: How has being a member of the Santa Clara University women's crew team shaped your college experience?
JW: As a member of the Santa Clara women's crew team, my college experience has been wonderful. Although waking up at 5 AM every morning can be challenging, I always find that practice in the morning is a great way to start the day. Having the opportunity to travel to San Diego as well as to Sacramento to race has been great. I have also found that some of my best friends are on the team, and that the team is a dependable support system that has been there for me through everything.
SCB: What are some of your best memories from your four years of rowing for the Broncos?
JW: Some of my best memories from my experience of rowing for the Broncos come down to the times when we are hanging out as a team. At regattas the team always gathers around the food tent and waits until a Santa Clara boat comes down the course, then we all sprint to the water to cheer each other on. My favorite race is always San Diego when we watch the jumbo-tron then sprint to the water to see the boats finish.
SCB: How do you view your role on the team as a senior? In what ways do you try to help some of the younger or less experienced rowers?
JW: As a senior on the team, I see myself in a motivational or encouraging role. Having been in the same situation as the other rowers, it is easy to relate to what they are experiencing, and then to encourage them to continue to work hard and improve. I remember as a novice there were times when I would be so frustrated and want to give up. Then one of the older girls would encourage me to keep working hard, and it would help me to re-evaluate. For some of the younger or less experienced rowers, I try to be that person they can come to with frustrations or questions. I try to answer them positively and to encourage the girls to keep working hard. I want to be just like the girls who encouraged me to keep working hard in the midst of my frustrations because without them I probably would not have made it this far with crew.
SCB: What are you looking forward to most this season? What are your goals and expectations?
JW: This season I'm most looking forward to racing. There is nothing better than going to the starting line and getting ready to go down the course. It is the time when I know that all of our training and hard work for the past two quarters will finally pay off. Regattas are always fun since there are races constantly going on and everyone is excited. I am looking forward to racing in the WCC Championship at the end of the season because we get the opportunity to only race the schools from the conference and to see how we compare. My main goal for the season is to race, as a boat, every race the best that we can. I also hope to see us race well in WIRA and to make it to the medal stand in the line-ups Coach sets. I hope this season to be my best season, especially since it will be my last time to race for Santa Clara.