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“Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover” by Katherine Paglione '16

All hands are down. This is the start. Attention, Go!

And we are off. It is the first day of freshman year, and much like the start of a race, half of us are ready, and half of us are not. But the flag goes up and no matter what we are feeling, we have to plunge our blades into cold water and start to swing.

I have been a coxswain for the girls crew team for four years, and because Nobles crew has changed my life, I would like to briefly take you through the Nobles experience in rowing terms. To do so, I need you to picture the class of 2016 in a rowing shell. If it helps, the approximate length would be 900 and 50 feet.

Back to the stroke. We started at the catch, the moment when we first lock on to the water. The load on the blade was sudden and heavy. It shocked our systems. We started the race at the same time, but we were not united. So is the reality for most freshman classes. We cannot see what is in front of us, only the coxswain can. And it this point, we are not really sure who is the coxswain.

Sophomore and Junior year. The drive. This is the middle of the stroke where the rower pushes with the legs, swings back, and propels the boat forward. At this point, we are all over the initial shock of pace and pressure. It is now all about getting the job done, and staying connected. The race could go any way we wanted it to. As we pursued excellence, we found our swing and our rhythm. We started to move the boat together.

At the end of the drive, we realized who our coxswains were. They were the fearless leaders that had our back at every bend and turn, guiding us and encouraging us. Our parents, siblings, and grandparents, our teachers, college counselors, and coaches.  When our heads were not in the boat, they brought us back in. They coxed us through the rough strokes and led us to platforms we never thought we could reach.

The next part of the stroke is the finish. Today we finish. Unlike our catch, our timing is impeccable. We are synchronized and building off of each other's strength. Our coxswains now can relax and witness the power our stroke. They can sit back and watch the greatness and camaraderie their care produced.

The final part of the stroke is the recovery, where the rower carefully transfers their body weight over the slide, as to not disturb the balance of the hull. They compose themselves, move together, take a breath, and prepare for the next catch. When it comes time to take that catch into new water, some of us will be more ready than others. Just like some of the coxswains out there are more ready than others.

Catch, drive, finish, recover. The boat keeps moving, swinging into time and space.

Catch, drive, finish, recover.  As we leave the water we have known for so long, remember that we leave behind a wake. One that will not soon be forgotten.

To the crew of 2016, and the coxswains here to support us, welcome to the finish line.

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“Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover” by Katherine Paglione '16