Senior rower Rachel Hotkowski is racing this weekend with the Varsity Four boat in Oak Ridge, Tenn. A native of Old Lyme, Conn., was a member of the 1V4 that won the event title at the Big Ten Championships, April 28, in Madison, Wis. Hotkowski and the rest of the Gophers will compete in three races tomorrow morning. The Gophers' First Varsity Eight will compete at 8 a.m. against the Ivy League in Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Hotkowski and the Varsity Four will compete at 8:45 a.m. in the repechage against Ohio State, Yale, Notre Dame and Washington. Minnesota's final race of the day will be at 9:15 a.m. with the Second Varsity Eight, which also includes Notre Dame, USC, Washington and host school, Tennessee.
Q: Why did you choose to come to Minnesota?
A: I was looking forward to a new experience in a large city. I am from in a small town in Connecticut, where rowing is popular. On the East Coast, rowing is well-known and highly competitive. I felt moving to the mid-west would allow me the opportunity to be a part of a growing program.
Q: Do you think that recruiting at Minnesota has changed since you went through the process?
A: I believe with the current achievements of the team, the recruitment towards Minnesota will be more successful. After winning The Big Ten Title and receiving a team bid to NCAA’s, Minnesota’s reputation will gain more attention to perspective rowers. Also with construction of our new facility, recruits will be eager to sign. The convenience of an on campus boathouse is a benefit many other Big Ten schools lack.
Q: Was it difficult to make the adjustment from the high school to college level?
A: Some of the adjustments I had to adapt to were the coaching styles, the amount of rigorous training, and balancing academic and athletic obligations. In high school, I was on a smaller team and gaining more personal attention. At the college level, the main focus is the overall performance of the varsity boats.
Q: How does it feel to compete in your first NCAA Championships?
A: It’s an honor to have this regatta be the end of my rowing career after so many years. It is a great feeling to have the whole team here this year supporting each other after the previous year when only the first eight was invited. The NCAA championships are the biggest regatta of the season and its very exciting.
Q: What would you and the rest of the Varsity Four like to accomplish this weekend?
A: This is our first appearance at the NCAA’s and we are seeing a lot of teams we haven’t raced before. This weekend our goal is to go out and perform the best we can each race and prove what we know and what Minnesota is capable of doing. I am excited to see where our best will put us among some of the most elite teams in the country.
Q: Rowing is a physically draining sport. How do you prepare for it everyday?
A: Our coaches are very good at picking the right training schedule for us during racing season. The best way to prepare is to follow each plan and taper, making sure we are eating right and resting in our off time between practices. It is a physically demanding sport, but we are used to it and know what to expect.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a good rower?
A: In my opinion a good rower is someone that never gives up. Like you said before, rowing is a very draining sport not only physically, but mentally as well. It takes a lot of heart and dedication to practice once (sometimes twice) a day, eat healthy, and work hard toward becoming a better athlete. You need to show up everyday with a positive attitude ready to focus in practice, and be ready to learn from the coaches.
Q: Since rowing starts out early in the morning, have you been forced to become a morning person?
A: Yes, I think everyone that rows becomes a morning person. Rowing is a sport that is known for being on the water while everyone else is still sleeping, but that is only one aspect of the sport. The main reason for that is because the water is the flattest in the morning, and you don’t need to compete with other boat traffic, so for us rowers, it’s actually an advantage that outweighs having to get up early. You just learn early on that as long as you get to bed earlier, it’s not as painful.
Q: What do you want to do when you are finished with your collegiate career?
A: After my four years of rowing and school I am excited to take some time off to relax a bit. I am looking forward to this new part of my life and hopefully one day I can come back to the sport of rowing in recreation. Right now I am just planning on moving south where it’s warmer and hopefully find a job in my career field!
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite drink: Cherry Coke, Coffee
Favorite TV Show: Reality TV shows
Favorite sport to compete in besides rowing: Gymnastics & Tennis
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t rowing: Relax; go to the beach or shopping
Favorite Vacation spot: Florida (San Diego & Tennessee too!)