Q&A with Cal Women's Crew's Mara Allen

May 26, 2008

BERKELEY - CalBears.com spoke to All-American Mara Allen about her Golden Bears team, the upcoming NCAA Women's Rowing Championships and her future. The San Francisco product, newly graduated with her economics degree from Cal, hopes to add to her 2005 and 2006 national championships at the NCAA regatta that runs Friday through Sunday, May 30-June 1, at Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.

CalBears.com: Has your senior year gone as expected?

Allen: 'Probably better. I didn't know what to expect coming into it, but I have no complaints. It's been a great year. It's a learning experience, so it's been really fun.'

CalBears.com: You won NCAA titles in 2005 and 2006. How does this year's team compare to those teams?

Allen: 'I feel it's a lot younger because I'm older. I think it's alike in that there's a lot of heart and lot of hard work. That makes things really fun. That made those years really fun, too. The team has a sense of determination and hard work.'

CalBears.com: Did you enjoy the series of articles that the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about you in the 2006-07 school year?

Allen: 'It was really interesting because hardly ever do you have to stop and explain your lifestyle to someone. You live a certain way and don't think that much about it as far as how the outside world perceives it. When the outside world asks you questions and then writes the answers down, that puts a different light on your life. It's a different experience on how others perceive my life. It's kind of embarrassing now because people bring it up sometimes. I've been recognized a couple times. That was fun. Once was at Safeway.'

CalBears.com: Has it hit you yet that NCAAs will mark the end of your collegiate career?

Allen: 'No, not at all. Every year right after the race finishes, I never really accept it till a couple of weeks later. This year, it will also be a couple of weeks later, but it'll hit even harder because it's the last one. It always takes a little bit to settle in because you can't go in thinking like that. Then later it's, 'Wow, what did I do?''

CalBears.com: What will you miss the most about rowing and going to school at Cal?

Allen: 'The environment has the best possible combination of all situations. The team is great, you do what you want to do, get to live in an area with friends and peers who are doing the same things you want to do. You get to focus on what you want to focus on, and that's not something you always get to do in the rest of your life.'

CalBears.com: You competed for the United States in the World Under-23 Championships last summer. How good a shot do you think you have of making the senior national team and of making the U.S. Olympic team someday?

Allen: 'It's hard to say. It just depends on how much I want to do it. It seems to me the girls who go there who are really dedicated and put in a lot of work, seem to do pretty well. If I can share that same determination, I can succeed. If you keep at something long enough, you should succeed at the very end. I'm hoping to do well with them.'

CalBears.com: How do you think Cal women's crew will do next year when you're gone?

Allen: 'It'll be really interesting to see the juniors become seniors, because it was interesting for my class to become seniors and leaders on the team. The junior class is very diverse, and it'll be very interesting to see who becomes what: What person becomes the shoulder to cry on, who's the person the freshmen are scared of. It will be fun to see this year's freshmen become next year's sophomores. The sophomores usually become part of the team's aura. It tends to be the largest class on the team. They have a lot of energy and are really excited.'

CalBears.com: Are you looking to go to graduate school?

Allen: 'I'm thinking probably grad school. I've really enjoyed the last couple of years here taking classes in the econ field. That would be an option. I would want to get job experience first before deciding what I want to do. I really enjoyed international econ as globalization becomes a bigger issue. The world becomes smaller and smaller every day. I'd be interested in something that has to do with international finance.'

CalBears.com: What are your plans for this summer?

Allen: 'This summer is going to be my last hurrah at having no responsibilities. My parents have a restaurant in the City, so I may be working there and doing low-key training all summer. Nothing race intense. In the fall, my goal is to be invited to move to New Jersey to train with the national team and then mostly train and have a side job.'

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