Irene Condella - A Day in the Life

Jan. 31, 2002

By Irene Condella

Being a student at UCLA can be hard enough, but try also being on the UCLA women's rowing team. Life can then start to get complicated, but through all of its difficulties, my teammates and I persist to give 100% to this sport and lifestyle.

A typical day for me starts at 5:30am when I wake up for practice. I roll out of bed and layer on the clothes for the cold morning air. I meet the rest of my team by 6:00am and we all pile on to the bus. Although there are 40 of us, you can imagine that it is not too noisy on the bus ride to the marina.

We get dropped off at Marina del Rey at 6:30am, and from there it is down to business. We are awake and ready to work for the next two hours. Before we get out to the water, Coach Amy Fuller has a meeting with us to give us the workout and the focus of this morning's practice. As quickly as we can, we get the boats out of the house and into the marina. The cold marina air bites at us, but soon enough, the sun comes out and we are stripping off our layers of clothes.

Around 8:30am, we finish our practice, take the boats out of the water, and rinse them off. After a team meeting and cheer, we are told that we have an erg test this afternoon. I know that this will be in the back of my mind all day. On the bus ride back to campus, I manage to finish that last minute homework that is due in class today.

When I arrive back at school at 9:30am, I make my way to breakfast in the dining hall with some of my teammates. I have been starving ever since we got off the water. I quickly eat my breakfast and run back to my room to grab the rest of my school stuff and my practice gear for later this afternoon.

By 10:40am, I am rushing for my 11am class on the other side of campus, and I make it just in time for class to start. My next class starts at 12:30pm, and in my 15 minute passing period, I am still checking over the answers to my homework that is due. I hope that everything is correct, and I turn it in as I walk into class. As the lecture goes on, I can feel myself getting more and more nervous about my 2K test that is approaching in about an hour.

The class is supposed to end at 1:45pm, but as luck would have it, the professor goes over, and I have to sprint to practice that starts at 2:00pm. I get to practice and the adrenaline really gets pumping now because of the test. We have a 20-minute warm-up and I take some time to stretch and prepare mentally. I get set up on my erg, and at coach's command, 'Ready...Row,' I'm off. For the next 2000 meters, I'm pulling my hardest, hearing my coaches and teammates cheer me on. I finish the piece, and I have achieved a new personal 20 seconds! Through the pain and sweat, I manage a smile. It is so good to see that all of my hard work has paid off.

And with that, I pack up my stuff and go home. Although I wish my day was over, I still have a discussion to attend. So I shower, get dressed, and make my way back to campus. I finally return home for good at 7:30pm and eat a late dinner. I cannot even believe how exhausting this day has been, and I pass out at 10pm.

Although I find myself continually tired, running from practice to class and back again, I love this more than anything. Everyday, I have someone ask me, 'Aren't you tired from waking up at 5:30am?' The answer is 'Yes,' but it is a good feeling. I may go to bed every night sore, but I also go to bed with a feeling that I have accomplished something. I continue to wake up every morning for the thrill of rowing: the workout, the race, the challenge, and the teamwork. I continue to work hard everyday in school and in the boat because I am a Bruin, and I want to represent my school with pride. So many opportunities and experiences have come from being a part of the women's rowing team. Even though being a student-athlete at UCLA can be difficult, it is an honor, and I would not trade this for anything.

And tomorrow, my day starts at 5:30am...

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