May 4, 2012
The Off the Water series provides a “Getting To Know” piece on members of the University of Notre Dame rowing team in an effort to share with the fans details of what makes each of the athletes who they are outside the realm of competition.
Ching-Ting Hwang is in her senior year with the Irish program. The Chesterton, Mo., native has found a leadership role this season with a youthful third varsity eight boat. Last year, Hwang was a mainstay among the varsity four boat which claimed gold at the BIG EAST Championship, helping the Irish to their eighth straight conference title. Here is a chance to get to know Ching-Ting Hwang:
What has been your favorite race and why?
“My favorite race weekend was in Lake Natoma last spring. When we left South Bend the weather was miserable and extremely windy. When we landed in Sacramento it was 75 degrees out and sunny. Everything was green and flowers were blooming. During our pre-race row I kept thinking to myself that I was participating in a whole new sport because I felt so alive. We also had some time between races and my boat made a trip to Great Harvest Bread Company and Trader Joe's for lunch; two are my favorite food stores. That was the best pre-race lunch I have had in my rowing career and on top of that, my boat had an awesome race. Our team also raced very well that weekend so it was just happy moods all around the whole weekend.”
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to your boat in a race or a practice?
“Freshman year I was in the novice eight boat practicing starts the day before we left for BIG EASTs. I was sitting in bow seat and one of the girls in front of me forgot to tap down at the finish, meaning that her blade got trapped while the boat was at high speed. She caught a pretty large crab and the oar ejected her over her rigger and into the St. Joe River. I had fantastic view of her 360 flip.”
What is your favorite song to hear on the team bus?
“’Keep Winning’ by Archie Eversole is very popular among the team. I don't think it is well known so it's great because every time I hear it, I associate it with only rowing. I love hearing it on the bus or on my iPod and singing along. A few of us have even rapped the whole song in class for extra credit. The lyrics are really motivating and help us get through winter when we hit the toughest part of our training. My favorite part, ‘Can't stop, won't stop,’ closes out the song.”
Who is the funniest person on the team?
“Sarah McShane. She's relatively quiet at practice but always has witty comments that can easily be missed. I think we share a similar sense of humor so she's always able to get me laughing until my stomach hurts.”
How do you get pumped up for a race?
“My teammates will probably say that I get warmed up by waking up at 5 a.m. and jumping up and down for two hours before a race. In general, I like to stay loose, dance around, and have fun until we step foot into the boat. Listening to music gets me excited but I have to start physical movement to actually be in the right mindset. I always go on a 10-minute warm-up run to scope out the competition. I tell myself the entire time, ‘These girls have no idea what they're getting into at the start line,’ and that ‘No one has trained harder than we have.’”
What is your favorite hobby outside of sports?
“Arts and crafts. I used to take private art lessons and learned how to do charcoal and oil paintings, as well as calligraphy. Whenever I have free time over breaks at home I try to pick up new art skills. I've had periods of obsession with sketching, puffy painting shirts, and making figures out of tinfoil. This past summer I discovered a love for woodcarving and wood burning. Of course, coloring books are always great too.”
What do you think is the key to becoming a successful student-athlete at Notre Dame?
“Learning to avoid procrastination and utilizing all the resources available to us. The Career Center, Monogram Club, Student Welfare and Development, Compliance, and the Academic Services staffs have all helped me through the years. They have been great to talk to for advice about future careers, summer internships, and just people to bounce around ideas with. Similarly, going to office hours. Every professor holds office hours and few students actually go in to talk to them. My professors have always been willing to work through problems with me and even reteach some of the material that I might have missed in class while I was gone racing.”
What is your biggest pet peeve?
“People who walk really slow in groups and take over the entire sidewalk, especially during the winter. Even if I'm not in a hurry it drives me crazy because it's freezing outside and I don't understand why other people would not also want to get into a heated building as soon as possible.”
What is the most important lesson you've learned while at Notre Dame?
“Things never go as planned. I used to plan my daily schedule down to the minute. I would make a schedule keeping in mind how many minutes it would take to brush my teeth and how many minutes it would take to walk to my car. Now I know to always be 10 minutes early just in case and then not have to worry about everything else. Many things are out of my control and I can't spend time anxious about them. This new mindset has allowed me to be less stressed and actually able to enjoy walking across the quad, because I'm not so concerned with sticking to my schedule. As our coaches will say, ‘the cheese moves’ and you have to be able to adapt.”
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
“I grew up in the Midwest and therefore love seeing endless stretches of green grass on rolling hills. Tall buildings and huge crowds make me feel claustrophobic. If I could pick a place to live it would definitely be somewhere secluded in nature where I am surrounded by grass, water, mountains and trees. Living in a cabin on top of a mountain, maybe in Oregon or Colorado, with access to hiking and cycling trails, would be a dream come true.”
What is the best class or professor you have ever had at Notre Dame?
“The best class I have taken at Notre Dame is Medical Molecular Genetics with Dr. Champion. I was excited that the class covered the genetic basis of very relevant and new scientific discoveries. We learned about how our microbial flora can influence whether or not we are obese and how small viruses called phages can help cure a variety of bacterial diseases. It was neat to actually understand the newest medical treatments and have that arsenal of information not commonly known. The discussion-based format of the class and Dr. Champion's enthusiasm definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the course.”