May 7, 2012
Freshmen rowers Mickey Aylard, Jess Munro, Alex Waddell, and Kayla Wakulich, each a member of a varsity boat this season, sat down and took a few minutes to talk about their first year at Washington State University, the rowing program, and their experiences in the United States.
Question: Why did you choose to come to WSU and compete for the Cougars?
Kayla Wakulich: I loved the atmosphere when I came here. It felt like a family-oriented team and I love the water here - it's beautiful. Also, the pre-vet program here is good.
Alex Waddell: I was choosing between staying in Australia or coming over to America, and the opportunities to row here are a lot better. Also, the schooling here is good, so it was a pretty easy decision for me.
Mickey Aylard: When I looked at other schools, I didn't get the same feeling. When I came here, it was a lot more fun. I instantly clicked with everybody on the team and said, "This is exactly where I want to be."
Jess Munro: I didn't actually come on an official visit, but I got a really good sense of what it was like. Talking to the coaches, you get a good sense of things. Also, now that I'm here, the campus is pretty and the water is nice.
Q: What is your favorite part about WSU now that you're here?
All together: The rowing part is pretty good. (laughter)
Mickey Aylard: I really like the support.
Kayla Wakulich: Yeah, everywhere we go, when we travel, we have huge support. I love that.
Q: What is it like racing in the fastest conference in the country and against the top teams in the country?
Alex Waddell: I think it's really exciting that we get to race the fastest teams in the country. That's who you want to be racing because it makes you better rowers. We won't be that good unless we compete against that standard.
Q: What do you think about the Snake River as a venue?
Kayla Wakulich: It's fun. It's an adventure because we get flat water, as well as rocky water and it makes us prepared for everything.
Mickey Aylard: I think the crews that constantly practice on perfect water have a huge disadvantage because when they get to a big race and it's windy, they have a hard time.
Alex Waddell: We don't freak out if we get a little head wind in a race.
Q: How have you developed as rowers since coming to WSU?
Alex Waddell: I feel like a completely different rower and like a different person within myself from at the start of the year. I'm 100 times better and I know I can improve another 100 times over. It's really exciting.
Kayla Wakulich: I think I've gotten more powerful with the weight training off the water. Mickey Aylard: I feel that mentally, here, I've grown a lot. It's not focused on the individual; it's more focused on the team. It takes some of the pressure off, in my mind, because everyone is involved.
Q: What do you have to do in the coming week at the Pac-12 Championships to be selected for a third-consecutive bid to the NCAA Championships?
Alex Waddell: We need to have confidence in our abilities and do our best. It sounds corny, but it's true. Our best is good.
Kayla Wakulich: I also think that it's important for all the boats, collectively, to work together. All the boats are strong individually, but if we push it together we'll fly.
Q: What is your best memory so far?
Jess Munro: I just have good memories all around with this team.
Alex Waddell: It's always a laugh.
Jess Munro: I can't really think of one specific moment. It's been good memories all together.
Q: What do you hope to bring to this team and help build upon over the next four years to make this program better?
Jess Munro: I think this year, especially, has shown just how important a team atmosphere and the mental state of the team is. I hope we can bring good team energy in to an already close family atmosphere.
Mickey Aylard: I feel that as a freshmen group, we're all really close. I think we'll continue to grow together and by the time we're seniors, I hope we've set a really good example for everyone else.
Jess Munro: Also, the older girls have been really welcoming in bringing us in. We don't feel like the little freshmen, shoved to the side. It's important that we keep that mindset as we get older.
Q: Lastly, none of you are from the U.S. Do you have any stories from when you first arrived? Or things that stood out to you?
Jess Munro: So many stories.
Mickey Aylard: One of our girls on the team is in a sorority, but at the start of the year another girl went up to her and asked, "Are you rushing?" And she looked confused and said, "No, I'm Canadian." (laughter)
Alex Waddell: I forgot my student visa on my first trip to America and I had to get that figured out. But everyone was so helpful to me. That was one of my first experiences with America - everyone is willing to help.
Mickey Aylard: When I first came here, at the first football game, it was crazy. I can't get over how crazy people are about football. I really can't get over it. The tailgating and everything is really different. All sports in general here, people are really into them. Jess Munro: I just struggle with getting people to understand me. (laughing)