Piedmont teenager Xaley Yousey recently was a part of a rowing team that won the 2014 US Rowing Youth National Championship.
Yousey, a soon-to-be 10th grader at Piedmont High School, competed in the Women’s Youth Ltwt 4+ division.
That division is comprised of all girls that are under 130 pounds and have a coxswain.
A coxswain is the person in the boat who is in charge of steering and navigation.
The races were held Friday, June 13 through Sunday, June 15, 2014, at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. Yousey races at the varsity level. In fact, she was the youngest person in the boat, the rest were juniors and seniors in high school.
Yousey said putting in a lot of hard work over the years has finally paid off and she pushed herself harder than she ever had before.
“Winning the national championship still hasn’t really sunk in – but I really feel like having been competitive in everything I do and always trying my hardest has paid off,” Yousey said. “I have pushed myself harder than I had ever thought possible and for the last 10 months this has been my goal and in the moment we won, that was the best feeling in the world, and I got to share it with my four team mates that mean so much to me.”
She put in a lot of hours preparing for the national championship, and prepared in different ways.
“There are several different ways that we have to prepare for races – and since I am in the light weight division, there are many more requirements,” she said. “We have to make sure we are mentally ready to crush the opponent, while staying internal and focused on our race only. We have to make sure to give our all in training and give 100 percent to the crew in the boat – every girl must do this. “When we were at the start, I believed with my entire being that we could win and beat the two-time defending champs that were lined up right next to us. While training for nationals, it was almost all rowing on the water and learning to row as a single unit. During regular season, we train indoor on the rowing machines and on the water. We do a lot of cross training using weights and cardio in addition to the rowing time. As a lightweight, I have to manage my weight and be cautious of what I eat and how my weight fluctuates.”
Even though she is a fierce competitor and just won the national championship, she said she realizes, and do her coaches, that schoolwork comes before rowing.
“My coaches know that school comes first and they require us to keep good grades so we don’t have added stress,” she said. “In our 2014 senior class, four out of five of our girl seniors were valedictorians.”
She said her career as a rower won’t stop with this championship and believes taking her game to the next level is important to her.
“Taking this sport to the next level is the whole goal,” she said. “Colleges hand out very big scholarships for rowing and it’s something I definitely plan on doing. I’m currently at a high performance rowing camp in Connecticut trying to eventually make the junior national team and compete at junior world championship.”
For more information about the event Yousey competed in or US Rowing, visit www.usrowing.org.