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Sidney Thorsten, a freshman on the Virginia women’s rowing team, recently checked in with to talk about the rowing season so far. Thorsten, a native of Atlanta, Ga., has coxed the Varsity Eight during the spring season. UVa’s next competition is the NCAA South/Central Regional, being held May 16-17 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Question: Coming in as a freshman, did you anticipate that you would be coxing the Varsity Eight?
: Definitely not. Coming into a rowing program like Virginia, I just wanted to make sure that I did my best and made whatever boat I was placed in go fast. The coaches do a really good job of easing you into college rowing, and the fall really set me up to handle the intensity of spring rowing while carrying a full course load. They also did a really good job of encouraging me, which made it easy for me to feel comfortable to cox to my full ability, which really paid off. I never thought I would be coxing the Varsity Eight in my first year, but I am having a ton of fun, and I love every minute of it.

Question: What would you say is the best part about Virginia rowing?
: My favorite part of Virginia rowing is the amazing work ethic our team has. From the novices to the Varsity Eight, every single member of this team gives their all for themselves and their teammates every day on the water and off. I noticed this about the team in my junior year of high school when I came to visit a good friend on the team. From the second I walked into practice there was this vibe of encouragement and intensity that I instantly wanted to be a part of. People will finish an erg piece, and before they even get a drink of water they turn to the teammate next to them and push them to the finish. I know that in whatever I do, whether it be rowing related, school related or simply personal, I have a family that will always be there to cheer me on, pick me up and hold me accountable.

Question: Do you think your personality comes across when you are coxing?
: That is an interesting question, and hard to answer. I would say yes and no. I think that my personality does come across in that my sense of humor and competitive nature are the same on the water and off. One thing that we’ve been working on this season is having fun on the water, so I try to bring my goofy side out in-between pieces on the water and in warm up. My personality is different in that I think I am a lot more intense and demanding on the water. I always tell the story about the first time my mom listened to a tape of a race I was coxing in high school, and she just burst into tears because she couldn’t believe her little girl sounded that intense and mean. When we start racing though, a switch flips inside me and I am very different then my off the water personality.

Question: What went into your decision to come to UVa?
: [Laughs] Bridget Fowler loves to tell this story. Bridget and I rowed for the same high school team, although I was not there yet when Bridget graduated to come to UVa, and one day my junior year she came to practice to talk to us about college rowing and she told everyone that if they ever wanted to go look at UVa we could talk to her. I had not thought about UVa before this, but a couple weeks later I found myself emailing Bridget taking her up on her offer. I came to visit her that winter and I knew from the second I stepped on Grounds and met the team that this was the place for me. I knew about Virginia’s amazing rowing record and I thought Virginia was the best of both worlds amazing academics and a kick-butt rowing team. I emailed the coaches the day I got home from my trip junior year, and never wanted to go anywhere else.

Question: Being a freshman, talk about your first experience at the ACC Championships and then how your team responded with two wins the next weekend.
: I went to watch Virginia race at the ACC Championships last year and I remember being so excited to be a part of the team, so when we went this year it was sort of surreal that it was one year later and there I was racing with them. The outcome was disappointing of course, but Clemson definitely came prepared and had a strong performance. I think that it was blessing in disguise because it caused us to bind together and unite in way that we hadn’t all season. We put ACCs behind us and looked ahead to what we could do for Boston as soon as we got home. We met as a group and we made a decision about the rest of our season. We decided to take control of our situation, believe in ourselves, and most of all remember that we do this sport because we love it, so do what we know how to do and have fun! We had some strong practices in Boston before our races and we went into each race with confidence and we were all fully aware of what we were capable of and how we were going to do it. I can’t wait to take on the competition at South/Central Regionals in two weeks because next time we’ll be ready.

Question: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
: [Laughs] Spare time? Just kidding. As if we don’t spend enough time together I hang out with my teammates in my spare time. We enjoy going to other athletic events and supporting the other student-athletes at UVa.

Question: Who is your favorite athlete at UVa?
: I don’t know if I have one specific favorite athlete here at UVa. I have a lot of respect for the men’s tennis team, they are a good group of guys and a lot of fun to hang out with. I also have a lot of respect for Amanda Chase, she does an amazing job on the water, and she is always there with a funny comment or a dance to brighten the day. She is also a very talented artist, and I respect how she gives so much to both rowing and her artwork. I will definitely miss her and all of our fourth years next year.

Question: Being from Atlanta, Ga., is there anything that you miss from home when you are in Charlottesville?
: I miss my family most of all. I also miss Braves baseball games, Macaroni Grill, Steak and Shake, going to lunch with my mom almost every day and definitely the shorter winter!

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