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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Bulldog rowing away the competition

Junior Olivia Branch has been a dominant force for the Austin Rowing Club varsity team
Branch is relatively new to the sport of rowing compared to her teammates. This made joining the varsity team daunting, however, she was up for the task.
Nick Wood
1 2 3 ROW!: Junior Olivia Branch rowing on Lake Austin for Austin Rowing Club. Austin Rowing Club has practice everyday preparing for their next event on February 11.

  The finish line is getting closer, her heart beats faster. Junior Olivia Branch can taste victory. Her body is aching, but the thought of victory keeps her and her teammates boat moving toward the finish line on Lake Austin, hoping of achieving that first place medal and etching their names into the rowing history books.

     Branch is relatively new to the sport of rowing compared to her teammates. This made joining the varsity team daunting, however she was up for the task.

“I started rowing just a little bit over a year ago,” Branch said. “I worked really hard to try to get on the varsity team and finally got a chance last October to row competitively and show the coaches what I could do.”

In rowing, there are multiple types of competitions, all varying in number of paddles and rowers. This variety allows for players with different skills to participate in a variety of events, regardless of skill level.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of rowing, I usually do sweeping, which is when each person has only one ore instead of two,” Branch said. “I generally row with either eight or four people in the boat because of the team aspect of it which makes it more fun.”

Branch’s former teammate, Westlake junior Sienna Salisbury, has been rowing for around the same time Branch has. Like Branch, Salisbury values the team aspect of rowing, allowing them to create a bond over it.

“Rowing might not seem like a huge team sport, but I think it’s arguably a huge team sport,” Salisbury said.  “Everyone in the boat has to be connected and have the exact same motions at the exact same time or else you can’t succeed.”

Salisbury is very fond of Branch and what she brings to the team, as she helped the team excel this past year in competition.

“Branch is competitive and makes other teammates work harder due to her competitiveness,” Salisbury said. “She was a really big addition to the team and helped us last season a lot.”

As a leader, Branch has pushed her team to reach new levels and that aspect of collaboration is what fuels her passion for rowing.

“I really like how much of a team sport it is because you have to rely on each other so much because you really have to trust the other people in your boat that they’re pushing as hard as they can,” Branch said.

Branch said most  people ask her how hard rowing is. Saying that it isn’t a sport that is physically demanding as others. However, according to Branch, rowing is one of the most difficult sports.

“Rowing is really tough because you use more of your lower body because the seat moves so you push with your legs first,” Branch said. “It’s a lot of the whole body work because it uses 95% of your muscles.”

Her team nickname is baby branch, because she’s such a sweet and innocent person. She always has the best intentions.

— Taylor McIlvain, Junior

Because of the variety of races, Branch rows in all different positions in the boat. Due to this Branch works on multiple skills for different positions to help her team the most in the race.

“Branch usually rows on the starboard side, which is the side her oar is on, on a multi-person boat,” Salisbury said. “She works really hard because she also rows in the front during eights so she has to learn two different positions for two different races.”

Branch’s dedication has paid off as just in the last year of rowing she has gotten attention from college coaches to continue rowing at the collegiate level.

“We’ve had a lot of coaches come to our practices during the week,” Branch said. “The University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are all going to be there and I’m really excited to show them what I can do.”

Branch’s hard work isn’t going unnoticed as her fellow junior teammate, Taylor McIlvain, has seen the effort put into rowing by Branch.

“She always has a goal in mind, and works incredibly hard to execute that goal,” McIlvain said. “She does two extra lifts outside of rowing each week.”

Injury can be devastating to a team in any sport, especially in rowing due to its limited number of people on each team. Due to this, Branch makes sure to take the extra time to ensure she stays healthy.

“She does diverse workouts, warm-ups, and cool-downs to take care of her body and to prevent injury,” McIlvain said. “Nothing hurts the team more than someone being careless and getting hurt, so her focus on learning her body and how to take care of it is not only an advantage for her, but an advantage for everyone.”

Rowing, like other sports, has two seasons with spring being the more competitive season. Going into the spring season, Branch believes in her team and thinks they have a chance to make a splash at nationals this year.

“I think we have a really strong eight team this year and I’m really excited for our race in San Diego which is going to be a lot of fun and then I’m really excited for nationals,” Branch said. “We’re gonna keep performing how we have in the fall season and I think it’s going to be one of our best years yet again.”

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