We head over to La Salle University in Pennsylvania today to meet Isabel Stevens, a Team JL Ambassador and a sophomore on the rowing team at La Salle University. Isabel's favorite pre-practice snack is a Go-Go Squeez Apple Cinnamon and a honey stick, and her favorite post-practice snack is a gluten free bagel with strawberry cream cheese and green tea. She loves rowing in a 1x, but if she's rowing sweep, you'll usually find her on starboard! Isabel is a double major in Criminal Justice and Sociology, she is a member of a sorority, and she is the President of Greek Life.


JL Racing: How long have you been rowing? How did you get into the sport?

Isabel Stevens: I have now been rowing for over nine years which is almost half my life.  I got into the sport of rowing because of my mom. She had heard about it from one of her friends who was in a masters rowing program in Cleveland.  I then tried a Learn-to-Row camp, and I have not stopped since then.  I was very lucky to attend a high school that had one of the rowing teams in Cleveland.  Saint Joseph Academy was where my love for rowing grew, and I knew after making the team freshman year I would row at a Division 1 school.  I made it here to La Salle University, and I am very blessed to be on the historic Boathouse Row.  


JL: What is it like being a D1 athlete?

Isabel: It is really challenging; you have long days and short nights. You are always busy doing something, so you must organize your day constantly. I happen to also be in a sorority, and I am the president of all Greek life at La Salle University, so I designate a lot of my downtime away from rowing to my activities and schoolwork


JL: What is the most rewarding part of being a student-athlete? 

Isabel: The most rewarding part of being a student-athlete is being challenged every day to do better than the day before.  It is incredible to witness my fellow teammates and my accomplishments on and off the water. I think the best collegiate teams are 100% dedicated to seeing every single member of their team achieve anything they put their minds to from doing a phenomenal 2k to getting an A on the exam they have been studying for. 


JL: How do you manage your time between school, practice, and regattas?

Isabel: My planner and my notes app on my phone are what I use every day to make sure that I can organize my schedule for the week. It takes time to manage my daily tasks as a college student with my rowing schedule most days. I do my schoolwork throughout the day whenever I have free time, and I am frequently seen hustling across campus to get to where I need to be on time. Fortunately, my coach posts our weekly rowing schedule every Sunday night, which makes my life significantly easier when it comes to planning out my days.


JL: How has your team helped you succeed both academically and athletically?

Isabel: Having teammates that compete for the same spot in the boat that you compete for allows you to develop a stronger respect for them and build your competitive spirit. I never feel intimidated when I race at other schools because I am used to putting myself up against my peers every day, and it only makes me a better rower. Additionally, our team carries this academic competitiveness as we have one of the highest GPAs for athletics on campus.


JL: What advice would you give someone considering becoming a student-athlete?

Isabel: My advice is to choose the program that feels like home to you. I am lucky to attend a college that allows me to do rowing while having a double major and a variety of extracurriculars. Time management skills are crucial when it comes to balancing a full course load with a D1 sport. Many athletes lose sight of the fact that they are a student first and an athlete second.



JL: What do you think is the most important attribute for success in rowing?

Isabel: The most important attribute for success in rowing is grit. As a 5’3” female athlete, it is especially difficult to get looked at by college coaches on any level, let alone Division 1 coaches. I would say that my grit has contributed to my continued success as an athlete in this program. Having grit is something overlooked in some athletes' eyes. What they don’t realize is that most of the time, when you are going head to head on the water with another school, it comes down to the team's grit and wanting to win that gets them across that finish line first.


JL: How does JL fit into your rowing life? Why JL as opposed to another brand? 

Isabel: I have been rowing in JL racing clothing since I was a high school freshman at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. Every event I competed in during that time I was dressed head to toe in JL racing clothing. Even my Olympic development uniform was JL racing. I can not imagine going into race day in any other brand, and their sizes are extremely inclusive of all body types.


Tune in to our Instagram on Tuesday, March 28th for Isabel's story takeover! Follow along on a day in the life of a collegiate rower, and see what a DI athlete does at practice.

March 23, 2023 — Kristin Foster

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