There are many sports to try but being tall, there is only one that everyone assumes that you play. In my senior year of college I finally found my sport of choice, and it wasn’t basketball.
On a hot September day, my friend Mike and I walked across the UCSD campus with the list of books we needed for senior year firmly in hand. We were deep in a conversation about how his water polo tryouts were going when a girl came running up to us. Her hands full of flyers, she stopped directly in front of me, blocking our path and said, “Hey! You’re tall!”
Mike laughed while I told the girl, “Yeah, that’s what people keep telling me.”
“What I mean is, do you want to try rowing? We’re looking for new girls for the team and YOU would be perfect.”
“Because I’m tall?”
“Exactly because you’re tall!”
At 6’ tall, most of my life people asked if I played basketball (the answer is, only badly). Occasionally, someone would ask if I played volleyball (sometimes, and I’m just okay). No one had anyone mentioned rowing, and in spite of growing up seeing people row in the harbor, I’d never given it any thought. “Is being tall is an advantage in rowing?” I asked, glancing at Mike who shrugged.
“It totally is,” the girl continued, “You get better leverage with the oars, you have a longer stroke, all the good rowers are tall.” She looked up at me, “It’s a little unfair for us shorter girls on the team, but there’s a place for all of us. How tall are you?”
“I’m six feet.”
“You will be perfect! And it’s really fun. Here’s a flyer with the address of the boathouse. Send an email to sign up. Coach will be really excited to hear about you, you have to come try it out!”
She handed the flyer to me and looked at Mike, “You’ll make sure she’s there, won’t you?”
As it turned out, he didn’t have to. My neighbor, at 5’10”, had also been recruited. We talked each other into trying it out, and somehow on the following Monday after classes were over, we found ourselves at the local Aquatic Center, with an oar in hand, stepping off the dock and into the training boat. It only took one practice for us both to be excited about the sport and the team.
Little did that girl, whom I never saw again, and who’s name I never caught, know that she had inspired in me a life spent on the water. Sometimes in rowing shells, and more recently in outrigger canoes. It has been amazing finding outdoor sports on the water where I can use my height to my advantage.