Q & A With Ruth Retzinger
Sophomore rower Ruth Retzinger (Cincinnati, Ohio) recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to answer questions about the team’s recent win at the ACC Championship and the season so far. Retzinger and the Cavaliers take on Pennsylvania in a dual race on Saturday, May 1, at noon. The competition will take place on the Rivanna Reservoir and admission is free.
Question: As a member of the Varsity Four that won the ACC Championship race, defeating Clemson’s Varsity Four that was both the 2009 ACC and NCAA Champion, how exciting was the victory? Before the race, did you realize that you were racing the same members of the defending NCAA Champion?
Retzinger: It was probably my favorite race so far this season to be perfectly honest. Coming off of the victories over Yale and Princeton, I knew we had a lot of speed, but finally beating Clemson and having that ACC title back in our hands was phenomenal. As for the NCAA Varsity Four, no not at all – I was oblivious. Having lost to Clemson in the four at ACCs and then again at NCAAs I knew Clemson was going to be throwing everything at us to keep the title in their hands. It wasn’t until I got up to the start line and actually started looking around at Clemson that I realized it was the defending NCAA Champions. Needless to say, after that I was pretty excited to beat them.
Question: Being from Cincinnati, is there anything you miss from home that youcan’t get here in Charlottesville?
Retzinger: Oh my goodness yes! I’m kind of a freak when it comes to ice cream and Cincinnati might just have the best ice cream in the world. Graeters. Peppermint, blueberry pie and black raspberry chip. Nothing else compares.
Question: Looking forward to this weekend vs. Penn at Rivanna – what would you tell fans that maybe haven’t gotten a chance to come out and watch the rowing team compete?
Retzinger: If there was any season to come out and watch us, it is now. The work ethic and determination on the team are incredible this season and with the support of the fans we’re destined to go places.
Question: What is something people would be surprised to know about the rowing team?
Retzinger: We’re actually a varsity sport contrary to what most people think.
Question: Who is your favorite athlete at UVa? Why?
Retzinger: The men’s tennis team collectively is hands down my favorite team at the University. They’re a lot of fun to be around and are pretty hilarious. But I’m going to have to say Tyler Wilson (baseball) is my favorite athlete. He’s the only guy I know that looks good in a tank top covered with mustard and salad dressing. And I guess he’s a pretty decent pitcher.
Question: Why did you choose to come to Virginia?
Retzinger: When I was in fifth grade, my oldest brother was graduating from high school. He was deciding between UVa and Washington University in St. Louis. As soon as I came on a visit with him here, I looked at my parents and said if he wasn’t going to come to UVa, I was. There’s actually been a picture of the Rotunda framed in my house since that day. The fact that they had a sick rowing team was just the icing on the cake!
Question: Your father played basketball at the University of Chicago. Did he encourage you to be athletic as you were growing up?
Retzinger: Yes and no. At the age of seven my dad was driving me 25 minutes to downtown Cincinnati to play on an AAU basketball team and from then on sports became a huge part of my life. But at the same time, he made sure my brothers and I had a good balance in our lives. When I think about it though, it wasn’t him necessarily him encouraging me to be athletic, it was more about following what I was passionate about.
Question: What is your first rowing memory?
Retzinger: [laughs] Freshman year of high school. My first 2K on the erg pulling a 3:05. That probably wouldn’t surprise [associate head coach] Steve [Pritzker] at all.
Question: There is a lot of buzz this year surrounding the rowing team. So far the squad has been ranked No. 1 in the country and won the ACC Championships. What is it like to be part of such a successful team? Or do you guys wait until the end of the year to determine whether it was a successful year?
Retzinger: It’s a good confidence booster for a day or two to be ranked No. 1, but after that the numbers just start putting a lot of stress and pressure on you. A ranking is just a ranking especially since we haven’t raced a lot of the teams that are in the top 10, like Cal for example. When it comes down to it, nobody is going to care who was ranked first during the 17th week of the season. [Head coach] Kevin [Sauer] and [associate head coach] Steve [Pritzker] talk about the mission we’re on a lot. I guess it’s just nice to hear that other people out in the rowing world think we have the potential to do it as well.
Question: Your coxswain in the Varsity Four at ACCs was Sarah Pichardo. How is her on-the-water personality different from her off-the-water persona or it is? How is the dynamic and chemistry of this year’s Varsity Four?
Retzinger: Sarah is an incredible coxswain and person. I don’t think she really changes her personality from practice to post-practice. She’s always really upbeat and talkative and looking out for what’s best for the team, and her boat, which is really nice. Some of my most memorable races the past two years have been with Sarah and I couldn’t be happier to have had her for a coxswain. As for boat chemistry, I don’t think there have been two races where the Varsity Four has been the exact same. What’s really cool though is the chemistry within the entire fours group this year. We’ve got a bunch of second-years on the team who comprise the majority of that group and each of us brings something really different to the team – whether it is through experience or personality. I think that’s one of the aspects that has made our team so strong this year.