April 21, 2009
"Everybody is realizing this is the year," said WSU Cougar women's rower Karin Brevick.
This is the year.
"I always say `together, before we graduate, let's make a run for a national championship,'" Karin recalls. "`Last year we got eighth [at the NCAA Championships] and I really think anything is possible.'"
In addition to an NCAA Championship run in 2009, this is the year that sisters Karin and Amy Brevick will share their final collegiate season together.
This year is the culmination of athletic pursuits that began in their youth, though they always played on separate basketball and other teams because of their age difference. Karin started rowing as a junior at Mount Si High School, quickly stepping up to the varsity squad. A year-and-a-half later, Amy was recruited to fill a varsity boat vacancy, admitting that she was thrown into the mix and felt like a chicken with her head cut off, but that it worked out well.
The Brevick sisters are about 22 months apart in age. Karin broke a rib at the outset of her sophomore year, and opted to use her redshirt season. Thus in terms of eligibility both Karin and Amy are seniors, although Karin has graduated academically with a degree in Sport Management, the same program in which Amy studies.
Having never formally competed against one another or participated together, Karin and Amy are taking advantage of the opportunity to push each other as teammates at WSU. Amy said Karin is bigger and stronger, while Karin said Amy is faster and a better technical rower; there is mutual respect, but they are competitive.
"It's great because we are so close that we can be that competitive, but then when it's over, it's over and we can leave it," Karin said.
With their competitive edge harboring inside, Amy and Karin naturally feed off one another.
"It is encouraging to look over at somebody at practice and know they know exactly what you are thinking," Amy said. "Whether it's good or bad they can say that it's all okay."
Along with possessing a competitive bond, the Brevick sisters embody several other leadership traits.
"Karin and Amy are the consummate student-athletes," head rowing Coach Jane LaRiviere said. "They work hard, they understand the dynamics of the team and they have an uncanny ability to focus at practice, regardless of the distractions."
"For me leadership is...not saying I'll do an extra workout tomorrow, but doing an extra workout today," Amy said.
Having the Brevick sisters competing on the same team provides leadership and camaraderie benefits, and presents a unique opportunity for a coach.
"I've enjoyed watching each mature and develop into really cool people," LaRieviere said. "They are definitely individuals but they share a lot of commonalities when it comes to athletics."
"She knows that we are sisters but that we are two very different athletes and two very different people," Karin said regarding her coach of almost five seasons. "She has done a really good job of fostering our growth."
As athletes, students and sisters, the WSU experience takes on a lot of meaning for the Brevicks.
"It's amazing that the dream we had growing up has come true," Amy said.
"I always thought I was a Coug, but now I bleed crimson and I will for the rest of my life," Karin said.
Amy and Karin Brevick's childhood dream is reality. They are Division-I athletes, with their faces on Cougar posters all over town. Most important to them is the privilege of enjoying the whole experience together.
"How neat it is and how much fun it can be to make that last run together knowing we are putting everything into it," Karin said. "Go big or go home."
This is the year.