ND Free Pass: Rowing

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

A spectator needs comfort as much as excitement, and I had a great plan for watching the ND rowing team compete against Tulsa on Oct. 30. First, arrive at Farmer’s Market half an hour before the 10 a.m. racing start. Check out the goodies on display and buy a doughnut or a scone or some other sweet treat. Buy a coffee, leave Farmer’s Market and head across the street to stand on the bridge and watch as the boats powered down the St. Joe River, propelled by strong young women making a mockery of my physical activity that morning.

Not healthy, no, but is seemed to me like a yummy way to ease into a busy day of spectatorship, because in a few hours I’d be headed over to the Notre Dame football stadium to watch ND and Tulsa wrangle in another sport.

So it was a bit of a shock when I got out of my car at Farmer’s Market at 9:35 a.m. and saw a group of at least 20 people in Tulsa blue standing on the bridge across from the parking lot, cheering like banshees. Go Tulsa! Go Tulsa!

And I could see a couple boats going under the bridge. Okay, time to forget a sugar-high and high-tail it across the street and onto the bridge. Maybe I’d catch some other part of the race.

Except, as I got on the bridge, the entire crowd of spectators turned and began to walk toward me, toward the road, toward the market’s parking lot.

“Excuse me,” I said to one of the Tulsa blue women. “Is it over?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “It happens fast.”

“But,” I protested, taking a look at my watch, which read 9:40, “It wasn’t supposed to start until 10 a.m.”

She shrugged. “Oh, it started before that.” Well, yes, I’d figured that out, particularly since it wasn’t even 10 o’clock yet. Did she think I was an idiot? Maybe she did.

So, I swung into Plan What-the-hell-do-I-do-now. Ran in Farmer’s Market, bought a blueberry scone, hopped in my car and drove the short distance to the boathouse. And instead of watching any races, I saw the crew teams hauling boats out of the water. And the ND team members gather in a circle and sing Happy Birthday to someone. And the times being written on a white board on the side of the boathouse. It appeared the four Notre Dame boats finished 1st, 4th, 7th and 8th.

First and last. Was that a victory? A wash? I didn’t want to ask, particularly because someone I assumed to be the coach had just told the ND women, “I think we’re doing a good job.”

Maybe they were. Nobody looked particularly bummed. Just me. Trying to figure out why the schedule read 10 a.m. Trying to figure out why it still read 10 a.m. when I got back home and double-checked it on the Notre Dame website.

And trying to figure out how all those Tulsa people were there on time and I wasn’t.

So that’s all I got. Except a blueberry scone.

Check out ND Free Pass for a sampling the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking. Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.