The Ithaca College sculling team opened its season Sept. 26 in the Cayuga Sprints, in which the squad posted a first–place finish. As the fall season begins, junior Lauren Hitesman, a member of both the sculling and women’s crew teams will be a part of the team competing for a grand final appearance at the championship next spring.
Hitesman is currently in her third season competing with the teams, after her sophomore season was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with her athletic success, she is also striving to make a difference on campus by running for the varsity athlete senator position on the Student Governance Council.
Staff writer Ori Grady spoke with Lauren to discuss her experience as a crew member and her ambitions outside of athletics.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Ori Grady: You were a swimmer in high school, but what made you interested in joining the Division III, nationally–ranked Ithaca College crew team?
Lauren Hitesman: Honestly, when I joined the team, I didn’t realize it was a nationally ranked team. I just wanted to make friends and challenge myself in a sport that I never tried before, especially with a sport I knew nothing about at the time.
OG: What about being a crew member at the college do you enjoy most?
LH: I really enjoy the team culture and making new friends and constantly being in an environment that feels supportive and challenging, with people who challenge me to be my best.
OG: How do you like where the team stands, as the season begins?
LH: I think we have a good shot at winning all of our races for the sculling team. We had our first race and we won all the categories except for one. I’m really excited to see how the sweep team does this upcoming season.
OG: You saw the varsity eight team place first at the Liberty League last spring and third at the NCAA Championships. What are the expectations going into this season for both the sculling team and the crew team?
LH: Our expectations are to show up to practice 100% prepared, be 15 minutes early, be ready to get in the boat, be ready to work hard, think about the pieces we are doing, and put the muscle behind what we need to do.
OG: How do you feel like you individually can help both teams reach their highest potential?
LH: I think the best thing I can do is to come to practice prepared and to create a positive environment for the team, so no one feels threatened or unsafe. One thing I can do in the spring when everyone comes together to row is to welcome–in people and try to teach them the rules and what this team is about.
OG: What is the preparation process for a rower before a regatta?
LH: Usually, during the week we lift twice on Tuesday and Thursday, get assigned a boat partner or for rowing a single, we get assigned a boat. We’re also asked to do different drills throughout the week. Depending on how well we do those drills or how well the coach thinks we’re doing, we’ll either keep those drills or change them up depending on what the coach thinks.
OG: What would you like the Ithaca community to know about you as a person?
LH: I want the Ithaca community to know that I work very hard at practice and [I] am committed to making this team great. I also want them to know that I am currently running for student government varsity athlete senator. One of my biggest goals there is to extend dining hall hours, reduce student food insecurity across campus, and add healthier options in the dining halls across campus so all the athletes can stay healthy.