Q & A With Nora Phillips
Senior rower Nora Phillips (Arlington, Va.) recently checked with VirginiaSports.com to preview the third-ranked Cavaliers’ upcoming races at South/Central Regional Championships. UVa is coming off its 10th ACC Championship on April 24.
Question: In a final tune-up before Regionals, the team swept every race against Penn on the Rivanna Reservoir on May 1. What will the next week of training be like as the team travels to Oak Ridge, Tenn., for South/Central Regional Championships?
Phillips: We will be continuing to work hard – trying to build up our fitness a little more and make some technical changes that can give us more speed at South/Centrals.
Question: After the competition vs. Penn, the class of fourth-year rowers was honored in a post-race ceremony. What has the four years with those teammates meant to you?
Phillips: I can’t imagine a better group to have spent the last four years with! It’s truly been an amazing experience. I think we’ve all grown up and matured together. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my teammates. It’s been so great to share this experience with them.
Question: What is the best and worst thing about being a senior?
Phillips: This is the first year where I feel like I really know what’s going on and have it all together, most of the time, in terms of managing school, rowing and life in general. But at the same time, now that I feel like I’ve settled into UVa, I have to leave.
Question: Several of your teammates have cited you as one of the team’s hardest workers in previous Q & A’s. Has that always been a staple of your athletic career?
Phillips: It’s easy to work hard on this team, if that makes sense. Until my sophomore year of high school, when I started rowing, I played soccer which I definitely worked hard at mostly because I had very little natural talent for the sport. I don’t have a ton of natural talent for rowing either, but I’ve been able to get where I am because I’ve been surrounded by a group with such an amazing work ethic. It’s not that hard to stay motivated and push yourself to the limits when all the people around you are doing the same.
Question: What made you want to attend Virginia?
Phillips: I’m from Arlington, Va., and until my senior year of high school I swore I would never go to UVa because everyone from my hometown went there. My senior year, my visit to UVa was my last college visit and I just fell in love with it. It was the only visit I went on where it wasn’t pouring rain the whole trip, so I took that as a sign that this is where I was meant to be. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Question: What is your major? Do you have plans after graduation?
Phillips: I’m a double major in Foreign Affairs and Environmental Science and a minor in Studies in Women and Gender. Next year, I’ll be starting the Peace Corps Masters International Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. I’ll spend a year in Seattle doing coursework, then 27 months in the Peace Corps volunteering and doing work for my masters thesis, then return to Seattle for a quarter to write my thesis.
Question: What would it mean to you to win an NCAA Championship?
Phillips: All of my teammates – past and present – have put in so much work into this program, and it would mean so much to me to be able to see all that pay off and bring home a championship for Virginia.
Question: As a member of the Varsity Eight that had about as close of a race in the grand final last year at NCAAs as there can be, how much does that race stick in your mind? Does it provide added motivation the next year or did you kind of ‘wipe the slate clean’ as this year began?
Phillips: To be so close provides a lot of motivation to take it to the next level this year, and without the experiences we’ve had in the past we wouldn’t be where we are now. Although it’s important to focus on the present and what we’re doing this year, my rowing career has definitely been a long journey and a process, and for me personally I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the losses and challenges I’ve faced. Finishing second last year, as well as finishing second in the Varsity Four in 2008, were obviously not the ideal results, but I think I’m stronger as a rower and a person because of them.
Question: What is something people might be surprised to know about the Virginia rowing team?
Phillips: I think people would be surprised to know how much fun we have. Rowing is really hard and requires a lot of work, but we all love it and actually laugh and joke around a lot during rest times at practice. The team just really has this really fantastic energy and I think the fact that we have so much fun has been a big part of the success we’ve had.
Question: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Phillips: I love being outside. Camping, hiking, biking and running, although rowing doesn’t always leave a ton of time for that. During the season, I usually relax by reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends.