I missed out on being a team player. I sculled my single rowing shell from childhood to adulthood. I started to row when I was young, the same age my kids are now. By the time I was in 8th grade, 5 am was my regular wake-up time as my older brothers and I would head down to the boathouse. While the sport has a solitary side, we found companionship at the rowing club. We trained in a fiercely competitive environment where Olympians were bred early on. We stuck together to endure the difficult training sessions. I was one of the first women to be part of this club. I never had women around making it difficult to truly gauge my performance against other women. My high pony-tail would be in stark contrast with the muscled men that lined their shells up next to me on the starting line. I would do my best to technically out row the stronger men. The men dictated the character of the place. With that, came grunge. There were no shiny exercise apparatus like we see in today’s gyms. Wooden planks acted as bench rows, scrap wood boxes were used for plyometrics and the place was cold and dank. It was here that I would learn to cuss despite my mother’s objections. I have spent most of my adult life, trying to reverse some of the less than lady-like habits learned from the rowing world. While my parents would have rather me stuck to tennis, I had different ambitions. I wanted more than anything to make the Olympic team. We would head out to the cove and discover our limits as we would race head to head on the 2000 meter course. Sometimes it could be a very lonely experience to quietly execute 12,000 meter workouts of technique work. Each workout had some purpose in getting us one step closer to becoming an elite athlete. The days were always marked by the weather conditions. During the warm months, you would row as the sun glistened; oars making swirling patterns on the water as you cut through it. During the winter you would often feel the crunch of ice as you skimmed through it, breaking a path through its thin veil. Dry skin would prevail during these months, causing cracks and bleeds on my knuckles as the left hand crossed over the right. It was during the cold months that you would find your inner fortitude. It was in the old boathouse that I would grow up so differently than my kids are doing today. The challenges this sport brought were so much harder than anything school could throw at me. In some ways, I wish this upon my kids because my life's most teachable moments came from the heart of this challenging sport. I have few photos of the place I spent most of my young life. But the memories in my head sustain its every detail. Pictured is one of my best days as a rower winning the Canadian National Championship. To get to this day, I would endure a million catches and finishes trying to find balance, speed and endurance. I would row until a career ending injury changed everything. Interestingly enough, I was hit with an oar from a boat coming in the opposite direction. My back would never be the same as my broken boat began to sink. Another boat came to fish my mangled shell out of the water and it would be here that I would meet my husband. In life, when one door closes, another opens. As my back floundered, he would help heal my broken spirit and together we built a new dream for the future.