What Does the Cox Say?

By: 
Christina Robichaud
Class of: 
2014

The men’s crew team is notoriously known for waking up before the sunrise, training year-round for a race that lasts six to seven minutes and is 2,000 meters long, and surviving the arctic caresses of the St. Lawrence River and the cold north wind.  Despite these extreme tendencies, this is one of the most accepting and wonderful groups I’ve associated myself with.  We accept students with varying degrees of rowing experience, different races, backgrounds, sexual orientations and we aren’t short on differences of opinions.  You could say diversity is kind of our thing in this big, motley family within the SLU community. 

You may have seen me around campus; I'm the 5’2” 120 pound female carrying a crew bag way too big for me, frequently associating with men who are at least 6’0’’ tall at Dana after practice.  This is my first year, and last as a senior, “coxing” for the men’s crew team. The position of coxswain is one within the team for which my stature and loud voice is rewarded.  The coaches and my teammates have singlehandedly taught me nearly everything I need to know, taking me from being nervous and unsure about rowing technique to more relaxed and confident in my ability in less than a year.  I have eight large humans who pull me along in their boat as I direct, coach, motivate, and most importantly steer our expensive vehicle.  I have been asked many times, “Why did you start now as a senior?” and without hesitation I reply with “I had always been curious. Why not now?” St. Lawrence is a place where opportunities show up in the most unexpected ways. I had one year left here and this is how I wanted to spend it.

Over Spring Break, I spent about six hours a day on the water in Tampa, Florida with the team.  Naturally, this wasn't what I originally envisioned myself doing over my senior Spring Break, but it turned out to be an experience I will never forget.  I got to see dolphins swimming by our boat nearly every morning!

Before I started coxing I was fascinated by what the coxswain said, did, or what it looked like from the stern of the boat because it was so foreign to me.  In usual fashion when I tried to use a GoPro to get some practice video, I somehow managed to mess it up and take a lot of photos, which aren’t as exciting.  I was, however, able to scrounge together a short video that takes you inside the boat and will answer the question “What does the cox say?”

To say my decision to join the crew team was life changing is an understatement.  This choice has singlehandedly transformed my life at St. Lawrence and the effects will continue to reverberate into other parts of my life as well.  I’m sure this sentiment is mirrored amongst many other SLU students associated with various campus groups.  Not only did I accept the challenge of the unknown and unfamiliar, the relationships I fostered here are defining my life.  As a coxswain I learned the true value of patience, selflessness and what it means to be a Laurentian.