No sleep, no problem: Student-athlete balances rowing, ROTC and ASPLU

DYLAN FOREMAN; Sports Editor; foremadf@plu.edu

Balancing a sport and school is hard. Balancing a sport, student government, a future job and school is even harder. Sophomore Hannah Peterson finds a way to manage it all in her daily life as she juggles being on the women’s rowing team, a part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and serving as a senator for the Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University (ASPLU).

Peterson is a third-generation Lute. She was also awarded an ROTC scholarship to PLU, which is what made the Montana native come to the Pacific Northwest. When she arrived, she wanted to be able to do everything. She wanted to do a sport so she joined the rowing team, which  her mother used to be a part of. She wanted to be in a leadership role, so when she was recruited by former ASPLU president, Martha Spieker ‘16, Peterson couldn’t say no.

In student office, Peterson serves as a senator and is the outreach co-chair. She is responsible for connecting ASPLU to the students that they represent by listening to student feedback.

Peterson remarked that “our main goal  is to be very transparent to the student body in what we are doing and what we do.”

She performs this duty at night once a week. The real balancing of time occurs in the early mornings between ROTC and rowing.

Head coach of the women’s rowing team Andy Folt and the leaders within ROTC, have been one of the large reasons that Peterson has been able to participate at both activities at a high level.

“Her ability to juggle all of that is exhausting, but she’s on it,” Foltz said. “She stays on top of recovery and does all the little things to make it so that she is not beaten down by the workload over and over again.”

Peterson entered the rowing team with no experience, but it’s not unheard of to enter collegiate women’s rowing with no experience. What is unheard of is that Peterson earned herself a first-team all-American spot and PLU record times for the 2k and 6k on the rowing simulator (or erg machine). In fact, Peterson surpassed the original record holder for the 2k, former 2004 Olympian, Sarah Jones, ’92.

As a whole, Peterson was also a part of the NCAA Championships team that placed fourth last year.

“Hannah is probably one of the hardest working people I have ever come across, she’s constantly doing stuff in and out of practice and never really questions that there is work to do,” Foltz explained. “She understands that there is a bigger picture and that you’re always trying to work towards something.”

Despite her immediate successes in the sport, Peterson remains humble, keeping in mind that the rowing will always remain a team sport, not an individual one.

“It’s not me moving the boat with this great erg time, it’s everybody pushing as hard as we can,” Peterson acknowledged.

What makes it doable for Peterson is knowing she has support from her coaches, fellow cadets and teammates. In fact, despite ROTC being a contractual obligation, her commanding officers even showed up to her record-breaking erg time and showed their support.

“Down on the team level, it’s very cool, everyone is very supportive,” Peterson remarked. “It’s three really great teams to be on.”

ROTC is Peterson’s year round commitment. In the fall, she competes on the Ranger Challenge team that takes a select few within the program and puts them through rigorous activities starting as early as 6 a.m.

She recognizes that the other two school activities she does are short-term and that ROTC is what is preparing her for her career. After college, Peterson hopes to be in the infantry unit. which are the people in the field, or a helicopter pilot. However, though she has her mind set on working towards her post-college vocation, she has been able to prioritize her time so that she can participate in all her extracurriculars.

“She maintains the balance of being uber competitive, uber fit, and doing it with a smile on her face,” Foltz said. “She is the perfect definition of a student-athlete.”

Peterson said she loves the challenge of it all. Balancing rowing, ROTC and ASPLU has left her with many sleepless nights and a never-ending schedule.

However, Peterson embraces her hectic life because she knows it is making her a better  and tougher individual. 🅼

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