021 | Would You Rather (Coxswain Edition)
Welcome to CoxPod - a podcast for coxswains. I’m Sally. I’m Breana. I’m Anne and we're three coxswains with over 50 years of experience in the seat. While there are many rowing resources out there, we decided to create a venue that is solely dedicated to coxing topics. We learn from our shared experiences and want to foster a community that encourages innovation and discussion.
BREANA: Today on CoxPod we are celebrating our one year anniversary! It was on January 1st 2021 that we dropped our first three episodes. So today we want to share some stats and just have some fun. Since launching, our twenty episodes have been listened to over 4,500 times by audience members in 26 different countries. We've interviewed guests and we have met so many incredibly insightful members of our online community of over 800 social media followers and Slack users.
SALLY: And the most staggering fact of all is we've had 16 hours of media and countless hours of collaborating and working … and we're still talking to each other - that's not easy. I think it speaks volumes about the two of you. So to commemorate this significant milestone, we thought we would try to have a fun, more relaxed episode where we would play a coxswain game of ‘Would You Rather’. This is a game where two scenarios are presented - and they can be good scenarios or bad scenarios - but you ultimately have to make a choice. We usually fastidiously outline our scripts and prepare our episodes so that we cover coxing content efficiently but today we're going to be a little bit more relaxed. And we would like to give you a glimpse at the people and the coxswains behind CoxPod.
ANNE: Sally - you think we're still talking to each other and we are as of now. Let's see what happens as we go along this game. Stay tuned everyone. But in the meanwhile I just wanted to encourage those of you who are listening to us to potentially play along with us. You might have a good time, too. Take the questions … and if you're interested, we'd like to suggest that you try this same process with your teammates. It can be a great way to learn more about each other - at the same time as potentially having fun. I’m going to tell you … I’m kind of going into this a little kicking and screaming because this is not my comfort area … so I am going to give it a go. I suggest that you try it, too. Here we go - drum roll. I’m gonna pass it off to Sally for the first Would You Rather scenario.
SALLY: All right ladies. Here's my first take.
ANNE: I’m scared.
SALLY: You sure should be. Would you rather cox a boat in a language where you have a limited vocabulary or would you rather cox a complicated head race where you have not been able to prepare and study the course?
BREANA: Oh, those are both terrible.
SALLY: Insert maniacal laugh.
BREANA: We're coming right in with the tough ones.
ANNE: I’d rather do the coxing in another language - as long as it's a sprint and not a head race.
SALLY: Oh yeah - you're right - I didn't … I didn't qualify that.
BREANA: I think I’m gonna pick the same because at least there's no expectation that I could have necessarily acquired those skills, right? And that's sort of its own challenge is - coxing people in a language where you have very minimal proficiency whereas I would just feel embarrassed the whole time (I think) in a head race that was very complex that I presumably could have studied, you know. I think that would be just very demoralizing so I, too ,will go with the language option. What would you have picked, Sally?
SALLY: I would rather take the head race with the course I haven't been able to study for because I have been in a boat where I thought I spoke - or was at least marginally fluent in a language - and I could understand the data and the vocabulary that was coming at me but in the heat of the moment, I couldn't do it and I felt so powerless. I think in a head race I still have time to think but in a race where I can't communicate I felt … I felt useless … dare I say ‘ornamental’.
ANNE: Ornamental. Oh my gosh, Sally - I never put you and ornamental in the same sentence together … ever, ever, ever.
SALLY: That's because we sprechen sie the same language.
ANNE: Exactly. All right you guys - mind if I toss out one of my questions?
BREANA: Go for it - I’m excited.
ANNE: Okay. So this is a bit of a semi-superpower question and I’m going to reference back - I think - one of the first episodes where someone on this CoxPod made fun of the fact that my boats would levitate from the boathouse down into the water … bypassing all the unnecessary stuff that happens getting the boat to the water. So this is a Would You Rather have the super power of - your entire coxing career - that the boat would levitate? You wouldn't have to worry about anything … any rowers carrying the boat down … it would levitate. Or that you are guaranteed - in every single head race - the best line? You own that line every single time. You don't even have to work for it - it's part of your superpower. So go.
SALLY: Well, aren't we guaranteed the best line anyhow? Because …
ANNE: I knew you were gonna say that.
SALLY: I mean (like) I raced against y'all, Folks, they leave inches to spare and no more.
ANNE: It's guaranteed, though. You don't even have to sweat for it.
SALLY: I have raced with you guys. I know … I know what you both do, so I mean …
ANNE: Your choice - which one, Sally?
SALLY: So … well, here's the question. Part - for me - is earning the line. I like the line because I earned it. So if it's given to me or did I earn it because (you know) that is my superpower and it's just like Superman can fly and Aqua Man can swim? Or is it just (you know) given to me like …
ANNE: That's why I asked that question that way.
SALLY: Well, I don't want it given to me. I want to earn it so I’ll (you know) fly the boat. I’ll pretend I’m in Boston, Massachusetts. Breana?
BREANA: Yeah. I know what you mean - I kind of feel the same. I feel like I’d rather use the superpower to get rid of an inconvenient (you know), arduous, daily part of the sport and then leave my own skill set to still try and claim that best line in a couple of head races per year. It's a great dilemma, though. Wouldn't we all love to truly have that ability to levitate the boat and oars and everything right down.
SALLY: So wait. Anne can't answer this because this is what happens in Massachusetts.
ANNE: Oh right.
SALLY: So I don’t know if this is a fair question.
ANNE: I’m after the boat levitation. All day. Every day. All right, Breana - your turn.
BREANA: Okay. Would You Rather have speakers that never go out in the boat … so, perfectly working speakers … or
always know the exact distances in a race?
ANNE: That is a good one. I’m going to go with knowing the distance. Yep. That would be really cool. All right, Sally - your turn.
SALLY: Golden speakers that never go out.
ANNE: So we're different again, you and I.
SALLY: Wait - hold on. Shocking. Breana?
BREANA: I think I would take the speakers, too - honestly - even though it would be really cool to just magically know in my head exactly where we were in the race for sure. Yeah. We're fresh off of our episode talking about preserving our voices and it is just the worst when the speakers go out, but I like that we got some diverse responses there.
SALLY: All right. You guys ready?
BREANA: Yeah - what do you got?
ANNE: Maybe? I don't know.
SALLY: Okay. In the scenario, you have been disqualified. Would You Rather it be from violating an overtly unfair and biased rule or defending your teammates?
BREANA: This is such a Sally question.
ANNE: It is such a Sally question.
SALLY: All right - later we'll go why that's a Sally question.
ANNE: And could I just ask a point of clarification? I’m not sure about the defending your teammates. You've been disqualified because you're defending the team. I don't understand.
SALLY: So some slight has happened to your teammates and your response … defending them.
ANNE: Like a verbal something?
SALLY: Or physical action. I mean okay - I’m not saying anybody throws punches here but I’m just saying whatever the result is - your defense and vindication of your teammate has resulted in your disqualification.
ANNE: Breana, go ahead.
BREANA: This is tough - as these are intended to be. I think initially my thought was violating the unjust rule. You know, sometimes we do that as coxswains … knowing that this is a much more convenient way to (you know) get from point A to point B or whatever. But I also think I personally am the kind of person who is willing and able to play along with rules that (you know) don't make sense. And that's sort of part of the role of coxing as well … is to learn all those rules and just do (you know) what's expected even if you don't necessarily think that they have a place in a regatta. So I think I’ll go with defending a teammate even though I certainly cannot picture myself physically fighting anyone.
SALLY: I don't know, Breana. You're low to the ground - no one's gonna see you coming.
ANNE: I’m going with the unnecessary rule or the ridiculous rule because even though you might not realize it, I do have a bit of a rebel in me every now and then. And you, Sally?
SALLY: I’m again - shockingly - I agree with Breana. I would rather defend a teammate. I mean when I am disqualified, I would rather have that be the case.
ANNE: That was a great question, Sally. All right. I’ll try another one. In a race, Would You Rather have a rower's seat pop off or an oarlock open?
BREANA: I’ve had both of these … unfortunately … like multiple times.
BREANA: And they all suck.
SALLY: So this gets difficult because (like) I’m already flashing through scenarios. How skilled are the rowers? How far are we in the course? What time of day is it? How fast were we going? Okay. So, meh. I think I would rather have the oarlock open because if the rower has sufficient skill, they can still do the pry and row and not necessarily lose control of the oar. Whereas - I mean, granted there are times when some people's seat falls off and they're rowing arms and body - miraculously their stroke becomes longer.
ANNE: Wow. Okay.
SALLY: I’m gonna go with oarlock. Breana?
BREANA: Yeah - I’m leaning towards oarlock as well … partly just inspired by thinking back on these times. And my impression is that rowers are able to more quickly recover from that one. It seems like the seat one is a little bit of a - as you said, Sally - they'll tell you afterwards, “Yeah, I just rowed the entire rest of the race arms and body”. And so that appears to be a less fixable problem from my experience. So I think I, too, will opt for the oar popping out. But this is bringing back some unpleasant memories of races. How about you, Anne?
ANNE: Yeah, it's going to be a trifecta today. I also agree with oarlock although I have had the privilege of watching seven seat put her seat back on in the middle of a very challenging head race. So yeah.
BREANA: It's mad props to any rower who can do that.
ANNE: Exactly. All right. Who's next?
BREANA: I will bring us a question from Instagram. We posed this episode theme to our audience there and got a suggestion so I’ll pitch this to you guys and we'll see what we get. Would You Rather cox a sweep or sculling boat?
ANNE: That was such a fast answer, Sally. Give it a little thought, Sally. Pause for a moment.
SALLY: Hold on. Sweep. Wait. One more time … yeah. No. Sweep.
ANNE: Wow. I have no preference. I have no preference. Sorry.
SALLY: No - the rules of the game … the rules of the game … you must answer one. I am not usually the rule follower. Look what you've done to me, Breana! Look what you've done to me.
ANNE: In a year, you have turned, Sally.
SALLY: Well - or am I just manipulating the situation to make you feel uncomfortable - which is also in my personality?
ANE: Yeah, it's possible. It's possible. It's working. You know what? To be like you, Sally, I’m gonna go with sweep.
SALLY: I don't know if I feel that was genuine.
ANNE: You …. Genuine? You have to pay more to get genuine. So, Breana?
BREANA: Yeah. I’m also gonna go sweep … just in practical terms. My sculling coxing experience is quite limited. That's not - in my assessment - that's not as common in the United States as in some other areas. And since I started coxing in college, I also didn't have the experience of coxing sculling as a junior athlete. So in my one or two experiences coxing an oct with eight sculling oars, I just found it very annoying. You know … they have to - unless everyone's rowing - some other people have to gunnel the blades … otherwise they're gonna hit each other. And it was just like … it was so, so complex. So, as Sally has sometimes stated - two oars is too many. So I am pro-sweep as well. But one day, we definitely are super interested in hearing from coxswains who primarily cox sculling and would love to hear about all the complexities of that.
ANNE: Nice. Breana, why don't you give us another one?
BREANA: Okay. Would You Rather - this can apply to both races and practices - Would You Rather cox a boat that is never offset or a boat that never has check?
SALLY: So in this coxing scenario, are there turns?
ANNE: You crack me up, Sally.
BREANA: Well, I guess we can say - kind of as Anne pitched in one of her earlier questions - this is your whole career, you know. So you'd never have to make another call to control (you know) one of these two things. So sometimes there's turns … sometimes it's a normal day of practice … we can think of it that way.
ANNE: I’ll go. I’ll go. I’d rather have no check – ever.
SALLY: Yeah. No check. Oh my god, Anne - we sincerely agree.
ANNE: We do.
SALLY: Breana – note the time. Note the date and time.
ANNE: And you, Breana?
BREANA: I’m gonna go with set actually - because that is just one of the most frustrating (you know), time-consuming, complex issues to fix. It is annoying to be (like) thrown around due to check, but I think if I could just have the variable of set removed and that was always flawless, I could deal with all the check.
SALLY: You get that (like) little wobble board ab workout. I mean - what would practice be if I didn't (you know) work my obliques?
BREANA: And spend the entire time figuring out how to get it off port?
ANNE: Always port, right? All right, I’m gonna bring another one to you guys.
SALLY: Wait, wait, wait. You skipped me.
ANNE: Wait, I did?
ANNE: Go then.
SALLY: Okay. No, no, no. You jump in front - jump in the line, Miss Anne. Just wait - I’m coming. I’m chasing you now.
ANNE: Maybe … maybe it was an unconscious move to avoid some of your more difficult ones. Is it possible? I think. Go ahead, Sally.
SALLY: No, no, no, no, no. Please - you're in the starting shoot. You have eclipsed me. I have had to slow down.
ANNE: All right. Well, I’m gonna give you this then. Would You Rather cox in absolute, torrential, pouring rain or ridiculously high, variable wind?
SALLY: Did you see this because that is actually one of mine? Actually it was going to be snow but still, yeah, that was … like literally …
ANNE: So, Sally - after a year of doing this together, we are actually converging more. More than we realized. That's kind of scary and wonderful and scary. Since you've already thought of this, go ahead, Sally.
SALLY: I would take the wind. The water wicks away heat - it distracts everybody. If the wind is there, I can factor it in. But you know, athletes belong on the water … not in it. This is why I don't like wet. I don't like bathing, either, for that reason.
BREANA: Yeah. I’m gonna … I’m gonna take the rain. I’ll take any precipitation – rain, snow in Sally's modification - over having to deal with the wind. Unless we get to the point - which I have been in very early in my novice career - where the rain is so intense that you can't see anymore. That one is really scary and tough to deal with. But definitely would take that over wind or fog.
ANNE: I hear you and that experience – yes, so hard that you can't see - and swamping the boat. I’m going with high winds all the way.
SALLY: You blow me downstream ... I’m sure there's another boathouse there somewhere. If not, there's Uber.
ANNE: I wonder what the Uber … what the cost for Uber would be on that. Oh gosh.
SALLY: Can you imagine the Uber driver? Where nine saturated, wet rowers … appear … going, ‘Hey. We only have one cell phone but…”
BREANA: And do you have a roof rack for this eight and eight oars? Because we're marooned on shore now.
ANNE: All right, Sally. All right, Sally. How about if you take a turn, Sally?
SALLY: Put your seat belt on, Anne. Are you ready for this one?
ANNE: No. Maybe not.
SALLY: Assuming all things are equal and the rowers are of equal skill and the boat build is of whatever you guys like or prefer, Would You Rather a bow loaded, starboard, bucket-rigged 4 or would you prefer a double bucket, port stroked eight?
ANNE: What planet are you from?
SALLY: That's for cutting me off.
ANNE: I’m really sorry. I apologize sincerely. I want to rewind. Wow. Wow. That is a mind blower … just … it hurts to think about it. I’m hurting right now. Are you hurting, Breana?
BREANA: I’m just picturing some coach out there being like, ‘Hm. Which of these should I give my coxswain tomorrow?’ I mean - I definitely … I don't think I’ve been in a double bucket but that sounds so irritating to have to remember who's where to just turn, you know. Or getting four people with two on either side to row, so I think I could more quickly grasp the starboard bucket bow loader and just make that mental map of which oars are where and who's numbered what and then get that down easier. So I think I’m gonna go with the bow loaded, starboard rigged, bucket.
ANNE: I have never had to cox a bucket rig so I cannot relate. And that's in part why my head is hurting so much. But I’m going to go with the stern loaded one because at least I have a visual. I have something visual to go off of as opposed to my imagination.
SALLY: So maybe we should clarify for those of you who aren't as obsessed with rigging as I am. A bucket - in the American vernacular - is when you have two rowers on the same side right in front of each other. So in the scenario, eight would be port, seven and six would be starboard, then somewhere in the back you'd probably have (like) five and four on port, then three on starboard, two on port, and bow on starboard. So it's something where you have two sets - where two rowers are right next to each other. And coaches use them not just to mess with coxswains … although it's insanely fun … but it's done to either balance power or accommodate swing - or just better to bring out the enhancement … in some rowers.
ANNE: Wow. And your choice, Sally?
SALLY: I actually won the Charles in a starboard bucket … starboard stroked bucket.
BREANA: Woo! Let's go.
SALLY: It was … it was … I was so nervous and had to be so on the ball and so on edge about thinking what I was gonna call and when. I think that actually helped.
ANNE: Good for you.
BREANA: All right, Anne. What do you got for us?
SALLY: No. No. Anne did hers. I’m … Why am I the only one keeping track here?
BEANA: Oh, you’re right. Oh no.
SALLY: This is not my role in this relationship.
BREANA: Well, this is a real change of events - Sally running …
ANNE: It is pretty … it's pretty funny. Go, Sally - you take charge.
SALLY: I just … taking charge isn't the problem. Taking charge in a linear progression is just radical. What have you people done to me?
BREANA: It's chaos. All right. Well, I’ll bring us the next Instagram suggestion which is: Would You Rather cox an experienced boat that doesn't listen or row a head race (6k) twice.
SALLY: Am I in the 6k with a boat that doesn't listen … rowing with them … or am I just like in …?
BREANA: I think you can row it in whatever context you would like.
SALLY: I’m in my single. Peace out. 6k.
BREANA: How about you, Anne?
ANNE: I agree.
BREANA: Really? Oh my gosh - I wouldn't even do a 6k once if I have to be the rower. There is no circumstance under which I’m rowing. Oh my gosh. I’m glad we got some diversity there. Wow. Good for you guys. No - I’ll figure out how to deal with this boat as long as I’m in the right seat for me. And thank you to our listener for that suggestion. All right. So I’ll bring one of mine. Okay. Would You Rather - this is another one that we’ll say spans your career … in any circumstance. Would You Rather have the ability to read rowers’ minds or to always know the right technical call to make to fix something in the boat?
SALLY: Wait. Anne can do both of those. This isn't fair because it puts me at odds. Anne can do both of those.
ANNE: You first, Sally.
SALLY: I don't want to read people's minds. There are deep, craggy bits in there I don't want to know. And I would like those thoughts to stay private for you. So I would rather be able to do technical calls and also respect your privacy.
ANNE: Well - note again … time stamp this. Sally and I agree for once … a second time … maybe third time … okay, a few times now we're beginning to agree. I would agree with Sally.
BREANA: All right. Yeah. I would probably also opt for technical calls although there are so many times where if I could just take a peek (you know ) … if it wasn't a constant running - you know … eight people's voices going through. That would be … that would be too much. But if you could just be (like) where is morale right now or why did that person just (you know) do that thing and just check in. That that could be really insightful because we have to use alternative techniques to extract that information the laborious way, you know. And that - for those of us for whom that doesn't come naturally - that can definitely be a challenge. But I agree that you might hear some things you don't want to hear, so probably best to stay out of rower's minds.
SALLY: All right … because it's my turn … not that I’m keeping track or anything. Would You Rather cox a head race or a sprint race?
ANNE: Head race.
BREANA: Me, too.
SALLY: Same. Okay, I thought that would be more (like) challenging and debate. No. Okay, fine.
BREANA: It might be for listeners - you might have different experience. For me, I feel a head race is where I’m able to exert the most influence for the better over the course of a race. The sprint race - especially in the masters world where they're a thousand meters - I mean … it happens so quickly you can barely process it or react to anything. So I enjoy the challenge of a head race where I can bring a little bit more skill to both the steering and the calling for that long duration.
ANNE: Is it my turn now, Miss Sally?
SALLY: Yes ma'am - it is your turn. Thank you for waiting so patiently.
ANNE: Thank you very much. Here it is for you. So - and this is just not a one-off time … this is pretty much an ongoing situation. Would You Rather have rowers … and I’m gonna, I’m gonna pick an eight just because of the number of people as opposed to a four … of widely varying heights or widely varying skills? Like the extremes. Take the extremes here. Which one Would You Rather?
BREANA: I feel like every team I’ve been on has chosen both options.
BREANA: So I’m looking at this as: I get to narrow it down to just one of those dimensions? Okay. That's nice. Which one would I rather get rid of? I’m gonna go with height, personally. I think I could work with that a little more so … I’d rather have the varying heights and have to deal with that than managing the different skill levels. I think that seems a little more attainable. How about you, Sally?
SALLY: I’m inclined to do that as well. It makes for a better row - it makes for a more challenging row - when you're unifying everybody's skills and trying to bring the best out of each other and make the boat better than the sum of its parts. Yeah. You know what? I’m gonna go with that one because that's more fun. That gives me more to think about.
BREANA: How about you, Anne?
ANNE: Yeah. It is a tough one for me because and I really enjoy the fact, Breana, that you said there could be a choice … there could be a choice … only one of these two at a time? I hear you there. I’m gonna go with - I’d rather have the widely varying skills also, although the height thing is a challenge.
BREANA: Not if you can levitate your boat down, though. That gets rid of part of the challenge.
SALLY: Oh yeah.
ANNE: That's good. Is this a mix and match episode where we can just …
BREANA: Hopefully we picked that combo.
ANNE: So - so far we've got the … we've got boats that levitate down to the water by - and back - to the boathouse by themselves. We've got the best line in a head race all the time, every day. We've got a couple of good choices here. All right, who's next? Would that be Sally?
ANNE: Go for it.
SALLY: Would You Rather cox a bow-loaded sweep 8 or some miraculous concoction where you are sitting in the middle of an eight? So you're sitting in between five and four seat coxing. You're not in a stern loader. You're not a bow loader. You're just (like) smacking them … well, so you're stern for half of the boat and you're bow to the other half.
ANNE: Didn't you say this exists? Didn't we see a picture?
BREANA: In a four this does.
SALLY: You can cox in between two and three seat?
BREANA: Yeah. Yeah … well, I mean I don't know - I don't know how on earth it was ever done but there's a photo of a boat back in the day where the coxswain is in the center of a four. We'll find it for you guys and put it in the in the show notes if you've never seen it before. I don't know how they saw anything.
ANNE: Bow coxed eight all day. Give it to me. In fact, I’d love to do it. I will volunteer right now.
SALLY: I’m just gonna say there's certain nihilistic properties … I’m gonna just influence your decision a little bit, Breana. There's certain nihilistic properties to being in the bow of a boat and staring at a bridge abutment.
BREANA: If you guarantee me the working speakers from an earlier question, then a bow loaded eight seems scary but very interesting. I’ve seen one at FISA world masters regattas in foreign countries. I can't imagine what that feels like but at least you could see. That's my concern with the center coxing - is how would you have any clue where you're going?
SALLY: But how can you see in a stern loaded eight anyhow?
BREANA: I guess that's true. If I could sit up…
SALLY: It would be exactly the same.
BREANA: Yeah, that's true. I guess I’m picturing myself hunkered down somehow.
SALLY: Staring at the foot stretchers of four seats.
ANNE: It’s quite a scene. It's quite an imagination, Sally. And you?
SALLY: I really liked the bow loaded eight when I coxed it once. I really liked it. I mean – yeah. Again, you know, I’m teasing you about the nihilistic stuff but it really was like being strapped to a torpedo.
BREANA: That's so cool that you've gotten to do that. Is it your turn, Anne?
SALLY: I believe so.
BREANA: Sally's the manager of the order now, so.
ANNE: Yeah, you are. Is it me?
ANNE: Would You Rather have an out-of-control headwind or an out-of-control tailwind?
SALLY: What type of boat are we in?
ANNE: Dealer's choice. But it's a racing scenario.
SALLY: So okay, what type? Well honestly, I’m not I’m not doing this to be difficult, I swear. But what type of race? So (like) if it's a head race and there's twists and turns …
ANNE: The wind is still going to be directly head no matter what … no matter which direction you go. It's a head race and regardless of the - I know this is pretend land now …pretend land - no matter what direction you're going, it's either all head and it's bad, bad, bad. White caps. White caps.
SALLY: I would take the tailwind.
BREANA: Me, too. I guess if by out of control we mean strong and persistent and bad rather than …
ANNE: Like white caps.
BREANA: … changing. Yeah, I think … I think that would be my preference. I mean, I guess it would be over faster. But headwinds - I feel like every race I’ve had somehow has had just a massive headwind I’ve had to deal with the whole time, so I think it would be less on my mind if it was a tailwind.
ANNE: I go with headwind.
SALLY: That is because you are not rowing into it.
ANNE: That's part of it.
SALLY: And with the headwind, your rowers - in theory - are blocking you.
ANNE: Is that what it is? It's all selfishness on my part? Thanks a lot, Sally.
SALLY: If it's an out of control tailwind, I’ll just (like) set up my jacket as a sail and just (like) try to tack down the course.
ANNE: I‘d like to see that, too.
SALLY: All right, Breana.
BREANA: Okay. I’m looking at my list. Would You Rather - this is inspired by things that have happened to me - Would You Rather never forget your cox box or have a cox box that never loses its charge?
SALLY: Breana, you never forget your cox box.
BREANA: Oh Sally - the time that I got to the dock at Dad Vails empty-handed and had to run to the last trailer … we were like the farthest away trailer and I had to run for my life. And I do not have that kind of endurance. And then I had to come back and then cox the whole race. That has stuck with me a long time. It could be that scenario or it could be (you know) forgetting it all together at a regatta … which would also be horrifying.
ANNE: And what prompted you - at the dock - to realize you were empty-handed? I mean, did somebody point it out to you or just as you were getting into the boat?
BREANA: I think it was … yeah, we had rolled it in I think … and then I was just like … there's nothing to do … the next step that I would do is plug it in here. I can't believe I made it the entire way over here and I didn't notice and no one said anything - you know, our coaches walking next to us. Oh my gosh - just a nightmare that I would not wish on any coxswain. But maybe if it's happened to you, then you're commiserating right now or reliving something terrible and you know.
SALLY: I mean, I’m getting older but I still have a bit of a sprint to me especially when something large is chasing me. So I’m going to go with a cox box that never dies because that happens more often. And at least for now, I can either sprint to the trailer or still have lung capacity to yell.
ANNE: I have to say … just imagining the scenario of arriving at the dock without it is giving me palpitations. Just that panic feeling that you must have had - I have not been in that situation yet. Hope never to be. That is just horrible. So I gotta say my blood pressure's up. I however still will go with Sally on this one, also. Yep. I would. Yeah, I’m going with Sally.
BREANA: The weirdest irony is that several years later - when I was coaching a high school team - we were at that same course for Stoatsbury Cup regatta and I’m walking with our eight and they put it in the water and the coxswain's like, “I don't have my cox box”. And I flashed back to that moment and I was just like, “Run. Start running right now.” And she just runs off and then … and you know, we're kind of doing our best on the dock to make it look like we're (you know) we're progressing towards launching. And I’m just (like) sending her my strength … like I’ve been there … you'll make it … you'll come back … you're going to be out of breath … your lungs are going to be burning … you're doing your own little 2k right before you cox the rowers through theirs. But yeah - I’ve seen it happen to more than just me but I would not wish it on anybody. All right, Sally.
SALLY: Would You Rather have a successful competitive season with a competent but tyrannical and egregiously horrible coach or have the same successful season with a fractious team constantly at odds with each other?
ANNE: Wow. Again … showstopper, Sally.
BREANA: This one is a bummer but I think …
SALLY: You said two positive scenarios.
SALLY: Or two negative scenarios.
BREANA: It’s true.
SALLY: I am really exploring all avenues.
BREANA: I hope there aren't many people out there finding solidarity in either of these scenarios but there may well be.
SALLY: Well, I’ve been on both types of teams.
BREANA: I think I’m gonna go with the tyrannical coach because at least the rest of us could sort of bond and create our own sort of safe environment apart from that as much as we could. And you know at the end of the day, it's us going down the course and the coach is not in that boat with us. And so we could create some positivity there. I think it would just weigh on me a lot more to have to constantly navigate a really negative team dynamic that's team wide. So I’ll go with the coach even though again, I don't … I wouldn't wish that scenario on anyone either.
ANNE: I agree with you, Breana - for those reasons. Yep - definitely going with the coach because Sally made us make a decision.
SALLY: All right, I believe it is Anne.
ANNE: Okay. My very last one. This is: it's a head race - you're in a bow loader. Would You Rather cope with an intense sun glare … that's the sun is just at the worst possible spot for most of the race or Would You Rather be in a bow loader where the bow of the boat is cracking as you're racing. And what I mean by that is it's coming straight down off the edge of the splash guard … down towards the hull (you know) - the bottom of the boat. And every time the rowers are taking a stroke - or in this case (possibly was a real thing), there was a massive tailwind and every time the boat lifted up you could see it extending and you had no idea how fast it would be going … cracking through. So which of those two Would You Rather have?
SALLY: I’m thinking this is a rather triggering question for you, Anne … not based at all in a real life scenario.
ANNE: Has nothing to do with real life.
SALLY: I know you have an incredible and powerful imagination. However were some names and dates changed to protect the innocence of others?
ANNE: I’m just going to say I clearly chose the right decision because I’m here today … not in the bottom of some river. But for you ladies - where do you want to go with that?
BREANA: There is nothing I hate more than sun blinding me while I’m coxing and I know the exact angle you're talking about in a bow loader … where it's just miserable. So not having had this personal experience, I guess I’ll take my chances with the slowly cracking apart - or quickly cracking apart – bow. And I guess in an absolute pinch, maybe I’m holding it together by the end but at least I can see where I’m going. Because man, I hate that when that sun's at that bad angle. How about you, Sally?
SALLY: In college, I remember the boat started leaking and we caulked the hole with a power bar. It wasn't the best fix but …
ANNE: That's awesome, Sally.
SALLY: So I couldn't eat power bars for years because I kept going (like) - I know what that did in the boat. I don't know what that's doing to my innards. So I’d probably go with the hole. I’d probably have more comfort in the fact that the boat's cracking versus I can't see where we're going.
ANNE: There you go. Again, the three of us are in agreement there. The cracking is pretty scary but, yeah.
BREANA: Oh boy, what a dilemma.
ANNE: All right - that was my last question.
BREANA: Is it me now?
BREANA: All right. How about this one? Would You Rather - talking about racing and racing related scenarios here - Would You Rather always be late to the start line on the water or always get stopped by the TSA when you're traveling with your coxing equipment?
ANNE: That's an awesome one. Breana, that is awesome.
BREANA: And if any foreign listeners aren't familiar with that acronym, that's the Transportation Security Authority. Is that right … Association? Let's look.
SALLY: I have other acronyms for it but …
BREANA: Transportation Security Administration. And they're the security force in American airports who can pull you aside if they don't like the look of a strange cylindrical device in your bag.
SALLY: …that has a counter and responds to a magnet. It’s water tight. I would rather be late because I am confident I can lock on the stake boat. I am speaking in this out of personality because I have been hauled into the TSA little white room on three separate occasions. I’m trying to explain what a cox box is and why I had a detailed map of the Charles river and the arrival time of 40 different individuals. I don't want to do it again. I don’t want to do it again. I’m over it. I’m over it. So I would be late. Maybe that's just as triggering for me as Anne's.
ANNE: I was just gonna say that, Sally. It sounds … see, I can't relate to that but now I’ve got a fear of that, too.
SALLY: Yeah - you're sitting in a white room with a mirror that is suspicious and they're going, “So what is this device and why is it counting?” “Oh sir - it's a voice amplification device.” “Well - speak into it.” “I can't speak into it sir because the speakers that it connects to are on a trailer going down 95.” Yeah. That flies y'all - that flies.
ANNE: Wow. Well, I’m sorry that you've had that experience. I know it's more than once.
SALLY: Three times, y'all. Three times. I would like to recommend all coxswains who carry their stuff through security checkpoints wear matching socks and reasonably fresh underwear.
ANNE: Oh gosh, this is a stumper. I’m not gonna lie. Especially after Sally's done more of a description about actually what happens when that happens. I’m gonna go with I’d rather go through TSA than be late for all my races. The stress of that just makes me out of my mind. Breana?
BREANA: Yep. I’m gonna do the same. I would rather grapple with the TSA. It will be no surprise to anybody who knows my personality that I’m one of those people that shows up (like) four hours early for my flights. And so I feel very calm when I get stopped - which has happened to me as well. And then I’m like, it's all right. We are just inches away from the gate and we still have (like) three and a half hours. We can make it. There's plenty of time for things to get in my way and I’ll still make it from the way I prepare. But to have that happen every single race and have to deal with that and (you know) be out of time and there's no way that I could prepare to … I’m guaranteed to be out of time every time. No … could not … could not deal with that.
SALLY: Again - this is like, ‘Oh? We can only choose one?’ because both seem to happen to me with excessive frequency. And (like) oh, I can only have one of these now for the rest of my life?
BREANA: Do you have any good ones left on your list to close this out, Sally?
SALLHY: Well, I mean I did … oh I got it. Since I am the rule breaker … or well, I don't know why I’m the linear one following rules this time but that's just … Since I am normally comfortable in my role as rule breaker, instead of doing Would You Rather, what skill would you like to work on in the coming year?
ANNE: I’m going to respond in the following way - I would really like to improve my skills at calling complex drills.
BREANA: For me, I’m going to say distances. I really want to keep pushing myself to feel like I’m improving beyond where I currently am in that ability, which is something we briefly addressed on a previous episode. If people are
Interested - Episode 015. We talked a little bit about that in response to a listener question. So I think that's an area of continued growth for me that could be implemented in the coming year.
SALLY: I think I would like to be more adaptable so that I could be in situations where I am coxing a sculling boat and my preconceived notions aren't the thing that hits me first. It's my ability to be impactful and positive and to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. I would like to be more adaptable so that I can be more open to scenarios like that.
ANNE: All right. That has been a real treat - to laugh with and confound each other - so thank you both for coming up with this idea and also carrying me through it since you know I was reluctant to participate. But that was actually very fun. And I hope that our listeners will have the opportunity to try this out with their crewmates. I hope that you don't get questions that are quite as difficult as some of the ones that Sally threw out, however. We thought we'd also end with our usual Quick Pick and Shout Out. And so I will lead off our Quick Pick which is: asking each of us, as we reflect back over the past year, what is the one thing that comes to mind first or stands out the most? And I’ll start us off. For me - and this refers back to our docking episode - what stands out to me is the vision I have of Sally docking with all eight rowing. I just can't get that out of my mind. It sits there. It twirls around. it's something magnificent and terrifying all at the same time. So thanks, Sally, for giving me that. How about you, Breana?
BREANA: I am very proud - when I reflect back - that we have addressed some coxswain specific topics that don't get a lot of attention in the world of people writing and talking about (you know) how to manage the skills that we need to employ as coxswains. Bow loaders, for example, is something that I really struggled … when I started coxing … to find any information online that would help me manage that better. And so I’m really proud that we early on recorded two episodes about bow loaders which are among our top five most listened episodes. And I’m grateful that this venue that we have designed - which enables coxing to be the topic of every episode - really lets us touch on those deeper issues that take a lot of thought and discussion and aren't the first thing that comes up in maybe a cursory, initial discussion of coxing. So in my view, we've achieved our goal of really covering these complex coxing topics because we have a venue here that is - as we say in our intro - solely dedicated to that. So I’m really proud of us for that and I hope those view counts reflect that listeners have gotten a lot out of those episodes as well.
SALLY: I have to say one of the most illuminating things about this year is realizing and appreciating how our personality types and our approaches and our different backgrounds really drive how we approach everything from starts to practice management to just everything. And it's fascinating how we can all come to the same end taking different roads there. And it's been an extraordinary amount of food for thought for me and very humbling. Very humbling. This kind of dovetails to the Shout Out. I really, really think I want to Shout Out to the two of you and to this collective we formed because true professional friendships - where we can be so candid and so competitive and so cutting with each other - really is just something that makes us better. Except when Anne cuts me off because then, you know, it's a throw down, Anne. It's a throw down. But I can't say enough about how truly rare and truly precious it is when you can find a collaborative group … that we are both competitive and supportive … and to me, that's incredibly rare. And a quote - I can't remember the source, but it's - ‘A true friend will challenge you to become better because they appreciate the potential inside you’. And I think that this group and this dynamic really fosters that and embodies it for me. So thank you both.
ANNE: I hear you, Sally. I also feel the same way. And I’m gonna say … at the end of this episode, we are still talking to each other and isn't that something that we … I … wondered about as we started off on this? So thanks for bearing with me.
BREANA: I mean - ditto. It's been wonderful to work with you guys. We made it to a year - on top of many prior years of coxswain camaraderie and friendship. And I really wish this for every coxswain and person out there - that you have a group of people or you find them one day that you can interact with in this way. And we have so many off-recording, deep conversations about coxing topics and I feel I’m made better by that. And I think we all feel that. So it's been awesome to work with you guys and to interact with our audience. Really - we want to just make sure that we close here by saying thank you to every single person who has listened to an episode in our first year. We would not be here without you! And it has been so gratifying to know that we're contributing to (again) a community that doesn't get a lot of discussion all the time and this little, rare role in an unsung sport. It's really cool to have been able to develop this community. And we're really grateful for every piece of feedback that we receive from the audience. And we hope to bring you even more in 2022.
SALLY: It's interesting - for a role that's all about words - there are very few words about it until now.
BREANA: Truth. In the meantime, we invite you to engage with us on social media and on Slack where your question might get featured in a future episode. We'd also love for you to consider supporting us on Patreon if that's of interest to you. We are so excited to bring you more content soon. And until next time, I’m Breana. I’m Sally. And I’m Anne - signing off for now.