In December 2020, the Hewitt community came together for a socially-distanced signing day celebration in honor of Anne M., Class of 2021. As a Hewitt athlete, Anne played basketball and soccer and rowed crew, and she will continue her sports career next year as a Division I rowing recruit for UCLA. The first time I saw Anne practicing on an ergometer in the Hewitt gym, her internal fire shone brightly and it was obvious she had found her sport. Her recruitment to UCLA speaks to the passion, persistence, and hard work she has demonstrated as a rower.
Anne arrived at Hewitt in ninth grade, and over the past four years we have had the privilege of watching her develop into a strong and powerful student athlete who carries herself with impressive confidence and admirable humility. As Anne looks ahead to a successful career at UCLA both in the classroom and on the water, I spoke with her about her journey as an athlete and how her time as a Hewitt Hawk has prepared her for the future.
How did you discover your passion for rowing?
Hewitt introduced me to rowing in ninth grade. My aunt, who is also a rower, had encouraged me to pursue the sport and I ended up loving it. I just instantly connected with rowing. I had played basketball and soccer since middle school and continued with those sports through my first two years of high school, but by eleventh grade I decided I wanted to join a year-round crew team and commit to a more intensive practice schedule of six days a week.
I remember the first time I got in a boat. The Hewitt crew team had spent all of February and March training on ergometers in the gym. When the weather started to warm up in April, we spent a couple of weeks on training boats at the boathouse. The first time we got into an actual boat, I thought we were going to flip, even though it is impossible to flip an eight-person boat. By the time we got back to land I swore I was never going to do that again! Of course, once we learned how to stabilize our boat I stopped worrying about flipping and realized how much I enjoyed rowing.
Tell us about your decision to attend UCLA after graduating from Hewitt.
My mom has always been supportive of whatever I wanted to do, and when it was time to start looking at colleges, I knew that she wanted me to choose the school that I felt was the best fit for me. I fell in love with UCLA’s academic program and their rowing team, so when I was offered a spot there it seemed like a perfect match.
There are a lot of things that make me excited about attending UCLA, including the California weather! More importantly, I am looking forward to meeting new people on the rowing team and I am excited to start my academic career at UCLA as an English major. I discovered how much I love to write in eleventh grade, when I took an English elective called Literary Monsters. The course gave me the chance to do multiple creative writing projects, which is something that I had not had the opportunity to do before. English is a subject that I really love and one that can lead me down a lot of different avenues after I graduate.
I am nervous about the intense athletic and academic schedule of a Division 1 student athlete, but I know that after I adjust, I will be okay. I am comforted by the fact that I know Hewitt has prepared me to take on the life of a college athlete, athletically and academically.
What lessons from your time at Hewitt will you bring with you to college?
Being a Hewitt Hawk has meant a lot to me. My academic and athletic experiences at Hewitt have taught me the importance of working hard and going after my goals. Hewitt Athletics also taught me how to be persistent in the face of adversity in order to achieve success. For example, when I played soccer and basketball and we lost a game, we never gave up. Instead, we worked ten times harder so that we would win the next time. I have also met my greatest friends at Hewitt, so in the future, when I remember being a Hawk I will always think of the happiness I felt here.
Can you describe your recruitment process with UCLA for future Hawks who are interested in playing college sports?
The recruitment process is long, but it is also a fun opportunity to get a very personal look at a specific school. The pandemic prevented me from traveling to UCLA’s campus or having an official visit, but I had been there before and seen the campus, which helped me make my decision. My process involved a lot of phone calls, emails, and conversations designed to help UCLA get to know me and to help me learn about the school, and I thought that overall it was pretty enjoyable.
Schools want to know that their recruits are passionate about their sport and that they are motivated to continue improving in that sport. In my conversations with UCLA it was important to me to make sure that my desire to grow as an athlete and work as part of a team came across. Another important part of the recruitment process was making sure that UCLA and I were a good fit both academically and athletically. My recruiters told me about the school’s academic expectations and I got to speak to several student athletes about their daily routines, workout regimens, and what I could expect if I decided to attend the school.
My advice for future Hawks who aspire to play in college is to work hard and try to perfect their sport as much as they can. I would tell them to advocate for themselves, make their goals clear, be kind to everyone, and don’t be nervous or afraid of anyone.
Who has inspired you to become the athlete you are today?
My teammates -- they really keep me feeling inspired to be a better athlete every day. When I am in pain and feel like I will collapse during a race, my teammates motivate me and cheer me on, even though they are feeling the exact same way. It has been important for me to be surrounded by people who support me and who understand why I push myself so hard in every race.
I think one of my favorite things about this sport is that being in a boat is the ultimate version of teamwork. We can’t move without each other and we need everybody’s effort in order to win a race. Rowing crew is physically demanding and can be really difficult at times, but my teammates have always been there to support me. I love how closely I’ve bonded with them.
Why do you think it is important for girls to have female athletes they can look up to?
It is important for girls to have role models who encourage them to pursue whatever sport they are passionate about. Female athletes who are playing at a professional level can motivate girls to push themselves through the hard hours of training and give them a dream to work toward. And peer athletes are important too. My own role models have been my older teammates, who I look to for guidance and inspiration.