When coming to Tufts, I never envisioned life as a student-athlete. I spent my first year here on the treadmill masked in the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, and I never imagined myself sporting team-labeled apparel. Yet, earlier this semester, after seeing an advertisement for walk-on women’s rowing tryouts, I decided to step completely out of my comfort zone and show up in pursuit of a position as a coxswain.
Over these past couple of months, I have been welcomed onto the women's rowing team with open arms. My sleep schedule has drastically changed so that my alarm now sounds at 5:10 a.m. six days a week, and I have now come to love post-practice, chatter-filled breakfasts at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Hall.
Walking on, I knew that the very nature of rowing is unifying. It involves eight plus people moving as one boat, each individual oar pulling together to move the boat in unison. And while I joined the team in anticipation of friendships and team bonds, I had no idea how deeply rooted the true camaraderie of the Tufts community really is.
This past weekend at the Head of the Charles Regatta, I took the Red Line to Harvard Square to cheer on teammates who would be rowing. As I walked from the T stop to Elliot Bridge in pursuit of the best spot to see my teammates row, the smiles and cheers from fellow Jumbos were simultaneously energizing and comforting.
Traditionally, the Head of the Charles Regatta is an event that pulls rowers and onlookers from all corners of the world. The Cambridge streets teem with people, each with their own unique agendas, joined by a universal excitement for the event. While only a few miles from campus, our Tufts sweatshirts and hats elicited an integrative response from alumni, parents and peers alike. From smiles, to “Let’s go ‘bos” chants, being affiliated with Tufts conjoins each community member in an idiosyncratic way. We may not know each other personally, but we know what we stand for: pax et lux, peace and light.
As I spend early, chilly fall mornings on the water watching the sunrise, leading my crew in drills in preparation for upcoming regattas and ultimately the anticipated spring season, I feel affirmed in the notion that the eight-person boat is a microcosm for the Tufts community. The sound of the oars tugging through the water of the Malden River under the pink and orange cloud-speckled sky speaks to our unity.
The Tufts community is defined by the love and strength we share. As we face obstacles, we conquer them together. As we seek strength, we lean on each other.
No matter what corner of Tufts you call home, and no matter what part of the world beyond you ultimately find yourself in, Tufts serves as both a place and a notion, and ultimately a comforting spot to always call home.