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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

Recently, Her Campus had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Alex Lorenz, former D1 athlete on the Women’s Rowing Team. After being recruited to row her senior year of high school and rowing for a year at the University of Michigan, Alex decided to give up her spot on the team. We were lucky enough to talk to her about what being a D1 athlete was really like and why she decided to give it up.

Her Campus: Can you describe your experience on the team?

Alex Lorenz: It was honestly an amazing experience but also one of my toughest years. Being a student athlete at Michigan, where academics are valued as highly as athletics, greatness is expected of you constantly. Our coach reminded us every day that we were there to practice to become B1G Ten Champions and if we were not willing to put in the work, the team did not need you. We had early morning practices almost daily, so getting up around 5:30 am became the regular for me. In terms of the season, my boat was truly a special group of women. We competed in an 8-person shell with a coxswain and I was so close to every single one of those girls. There is no one else in the world that could understand what we went through last year unless you were one of the eight girls. Working so hard and winning the B1G Ten Championships was powerful and when I think of my experience on the team, that is what I look back on. It represents not only our year of dedication to Michigan, but to each other. We proved to ourselves it was possible to win.

HC: Would you change anything about it?

AL: I do not think I would change anything about it, because that experience shaped me as a person. Yes, it was insanely difficult. I cannot put into words the type of sport that constantly pushes you to a point that had girls regularly throwing up or passing out during workouts. There were days I was so sick, but it did not warrant a miss out on practice so I had to suck it up. I got 6 days of winter break and no other breaks outside of that. Learning to balance my sport and 16 credits first semester was almost impossible, but with a decent amount of struggle I was able to do it. There is so much my freshman year on the team taught me that classes or other experiences cannot, and sure it made me grow up pretty fast. I recognize the value of that now.

HC: How did you tell the coaches you weren’t coming back?

AL: Telling the coaches I was not going to be continuing was tougher than I expected. I only got to talk to head coach of team in person and tell him I would not be returning, but I was technically coached by the head of the novice team. I was only able to tell my actual coach over text message that I was not coming back my sophomore year. That was honestly harder for me, because she was the one who saw me day in and day out last year and knew my potential. Sometimes you grow a relationship with a coach where you do not want to do anything to disappoint them, so I felt like I was letting her down. She was so positive, but I have so much respect for her and what she helped us accomplish last year. The decision ended up being much harder emotionally than I expected.

HC: Has your relationship with your friends on the team changed since you are no longer a part of it?

AL: I am currently living with two of my really good friends on the rowing team, one being a coxswain and the other a rower. My relationships with them have definitely been maintained, since I get to see them every day. As for the other girls, I do not get to see them as much but we still talk when we see each other or when I visit. That was the toughest part of the whole situation. These girls were my first support system at Michigan and first group of friends. Rowing took up all of my time and I really did not have the opportunity to develop other friendships outside of the sport because you are truly in this “athlete bubble”. So yes, it is tough because I am not as close with them as I used to be merely because they are dedicating their time to the sport and putting in the work that rowing requires of them.

HC: Do you regret being on the team?

AL: I do not regret it at all. Again, I believe my experience has developed me into who I am now and It was one of the most rewarding opportunities I have ever had. Coming into sophomore year, I had to reevaluate a lot over the summer in terms of what I wanted for my future. I realized my career was important to me, and that I need to be able to dedicate time to recruiting which is beyond difficult while competing in a DI sport. Furthermore, what I went through last year was not sustainable. I really needed to take a step back and evaluate my physical and mental health. I had a lot of issues last year and truly was not able to come to terms with at the end of the day, I do not regret anything about the team or what it gave me.

HC: How do you look back on your experience on the team?

AL: I definitely look back on my experience with a positive outlook. The end result was a B1G Ten Championship win and gaining a group of girls that pushed me to be a better person on and off the water. I think there were definitely some low points last year that were tough to get through. Being a student-athlete is an insane amount of work and with that comes physical and emotional struggles the regular student will never encounter but I believe it was one of the best blessings in disguises that I could have been given.

Images courtesy of: Alex Lorenz