Farooq: The Unbreakable Bond of the Power of the Pack
The following letter from UW women's head coach Yasmin Farooq appears in the Fall, 2021, edition of SWEEP Magazine:
By Yasmin Farooq
Head Coach, Washington Women's Rowing
A year ago, the mere idea of a racing in 2021 seemed like a dream. Now, I look back at an incredible racing season that included a Pac-12 crown, three NCAA podium performances (including two national championships), and an oh-so-close NCAA title finish that capped one of the most extraordinary seasons I've experienced in my 36 years as a competitor and coach.
The theme throughout the year was "Thank You." Thank you for the opportunity to be together, to learn and grow as a team, and for the unbelievable support from our Athletic Department and donors who kept us afloat during this year of universal hardship and isolation. COVID restrictions and uncertainty loomed at every turn. With gratitude, the women of Washington Rowing met every challenge with selflessness and tenacity.
When the pandemic relegated us to practicing only in singles throughout the fall, the squad embraced it. January signified a chance to row in pairs. Every woman relished regaining a partner. February finally allowed outings in fours. And of course, none of us will ever forget the joy of returning to eights in early spring.
I am enormously proud of how this resilient group made the most of every situation and emerged as a deeply caring and cohesive team. As a symbol of our "unbreakable bond," we traveled with a massive chain link once attached to the I-520 bridge. Captain Holly Drapp launched the team theme: "The Power of the Pack." It all paid off in big ways as the team:
- Swept the regular season.
- Swept Cal at the Windermere Cup.
- Earned our fourth straight Pac-12 championship.
- Won NCAA titles in the varsity four and second varsity eight.
- Came in third to Texas and Stanford in the first varsity eight at the NCAA's, resulting in a three-way tie in points that gave us a third-place overall National finish.
You made this remarkable season possible. You embodied the rowing concept of "when the race gets hard, make sure the person in front of you can feel your leg drive and knows you're there." Even though we couldn't be with our fans and donors physically, we felt your leg drive in every stroke.
Your gifts to the Huskies All In initiative and on Husky Giving Day ensured that our student-athletes could experience this life-changing season with everything they needed. Thank you for being our driving force and giving us all the opportunity to make you proud.