Rowing for a cause


Photo courtesy of Michelle Muillenburg

Michelle Muilenburg (left) races with her teammate to win their doubles race. Pulling with power and speed, Muilenburg rows to victory.

Senior Michelle Muilenburg recently committed to UC Berkeley for rowing on a partial scholarship. Rowing is a sport where a team of members sit in a small sleek boat and row for competition. UC Berkeley is in the top three for rowing with Stanford and Yale universities.

Muilenburg has been rowing since freshman year and set the goal of going to UC Berkeley for their rowing. Her father and her close friends are proud of her for achieving her goal. 

“It makes me proud because she set that as her goal,” Mr. Muilenburg said. “I’d be happy if she goes anywhere, just the fact that it was her goal and she worked hard to obtain it … just makes me pretty proud.”

Muilenburg has worked hard for a spot on UC Berkeley’s rowing team. Part of her commitment to rowing is the time she puts forth to better her rowing. The surplus amount of practice time has given Muilenburg an opportunity to work on her time management.

“Rowing has greatly impacted my life, but I wouldn’t say restricted it in any way, ” Muilenburg said. “I do have to drive down to Mission Bay and back six days a week. It takes up most of my day from 2:30 to 7:45 (including transportation). Regardless, rowing has exposed me to amazing people who are just as hardworking and share the same passion. Throughout school, homework has been a challenge sometimes because of the demanding AP classes, but I always work around it and do my best. I attained a 4.4 sophomore year and 4.5 junior year, so I still take school very seriously. Overall, rowing has given me a community of people that make it all worth it.”

With such a busy schedule with school and rowing, hanging out with friends has proven to be difficult for Muilenburg. Whenever she gets the chance, Muilenburg hangs out with her friends like senior Sarah Vittitoe. 

“She does a really good job of balancing,” Vittitoe said. “She gets all of her stuff done and then she still has time on the weekends and sometimes after school because we both have free periods so we can hang out once in awhile. I’m just there for emotional support in any way.”

With each competition, Muilenburg faces new challenges, physically and mentally. Because the rowers are far away from land, if someone were to get injured or tired on the boat, there’s nothing to do but push through the pain.  

“Every aspect of rowing is challenging,” Muilenburg said. “ The most challenging aspect I would have to say is dealing with the pain and pushing yourself even harder when you think there’s nothing more to give. It’s very typical for people to throw up. I’ve even passed out after a hard workout before. The more pain you feel, the faster you go, so it’s being able to go into the pain cave and not react to it.”