In her three years at WSU, Liz England has learned to conquer her own monster. The monster of rowing has met its maker this season as the senior has helped the women’s rowing team ascend national charts.
Currently ranked 13th nationally, the women’s rowing team is fresh off a win against Gonzaga in last weekend’s Fawley Cup. They have their sights set on Oregon State this weekend as they continue to prepare for the Pac-12 Championships in May.
“This year our team is a lot stronger and a lot more fit than we’ve been as a collective since I’ve been here,” England said. “As a whole, our team is really fit and ready to go for Pac-12s.”
Given England’s success and the team’s national pedigree this season, you would not guess that she only started rowing four years ago. England began her athletic career as a distance swimmer and decided to switch to crew as a freshman in college at Clemson University.
“I just went to camp to try it out and fell in love with it and I’ve been training ever since,” she said. “The monster grew from there.”
England’s growth as an athlete has been unprecedented since coming to WSU. She said she would laugh if she saw herself rowing a few years ago. However, the fruits of her labor have ripened as she was just recently selected to compete in the U-23 National Team Camp, which is a high honor for young rowers.
England said the camp may allow her to row this summer in Lithuania and further help her in her quest to reach the Olympic games in 2016.
The Virginia native credits her success and exponential improvement to team camaraderie. She said the team is her family and they view each competition as a family business trip.
“The other 30 or 40 women on our team are my sisters, and they’re people that know me better than anyone else, so we are definitely a close-knit group,” England said. “We don’t have captains on our team because everyone’s a leader. Everyone serves a different spot. No one class is exempt from responsibility.”
In addition to the team’s unity, England tributes much of her development as an athlete to Assistant Coach Josh Adam.
“He has been one of the most influential people in my development,” she said. “He has helped me work through a lot of mental barriers I’ve had and helped me develop as an athlete.”
Those barriers were about pushing through grueling races and not succumbing to the pain of each race. England said coach Adam told her to ‘make her own monster’, and own the challenge.
“It was a lot of not being afraid to push myself and not being afraid to hurt because rowing hurts like no other,” she said. “With sprinting, there’s a distance, with rowing it seems as if there’s a black box and you’re just putting yourself in that black box of pain and you don’t know when it’s ever going to end.”
England has mastered that monster as she and her teammates continue to row their way into the national spotlight. Though she is from the South, England says she’s fallen in love with WSU’s close-knit community and the aura of the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest,” she said. “The winters are a little harsh, but aside from that I’m fortunate enough to train on the Snake River, which is one of the most beautiful places in the country.”
After she graduates next fall, England plans to move to the East Coast to begin training for the 2016 Olympic games.
“It’s a big undertaking, but I think I’m prepared for it,” she said. “It’s a goal of mine — might as well train and see what happens.”