Q & A with Christine Roper
The Virginia rowing team will enter the 2010 NCAA Championships (May 28-30 at Sacramento State Aquatic Center) as the nation’s top-ranked team, according to the latest CRCA/USRowing poll. Junior Christine Roper (Reading, St. James, Jamaica) checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview NCAAs and talk about the team’s successful season.
Question: Last weekend, UVa was crowned South/Central Regional Champions for the fourth-consecutive year. Talk about that successful competition and what it meant to the squad as NCAAs approach.
Roper: I think our success this weekend was a good representation of how hard we have been working all year and to win it again for the fourth time in a row shows how much depth and talent this team has year after year. Winning South/Centrals is always great because for some of the team that was the last race and it is nice to send people out with a nice new gold necklace!
Question: With classes over and NCAAs this weekend, describe a typical training session in preparation for Sacramento.
Roper: Well now that classes are over we can start having practices twice every day along with lifting and strength training. In practice, we will work as hard as possible to work on the parts of our race that we can gain more speed from. I am expecting to work really really hard until we leave on Tuesday and once we get to California I think things will cool off so that we can be as ready and as rested as possible for NCAAs.
Question: The boats’ records, specifically the First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight, reflect one loss all season (at Princeton). How much has that weekend provided motivation when you see them again at NCAAs?
Roper: I don’t think losing is ever easy but I am glad that we raced Princeton and Yale earlier this season even if we did not do as well as we hoped. We try to make every race great but I don’t think we rowed our best that day and since then we have been working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I think we learned a lot from that weekend, not only that there is some stiff competition out there but we were also able to see some of our weaknesses and I think we have gotten much faster since then and I hope the next time we race we can change the outcome.
Question: As a third-year, what will you tell your teammates that maybe have not experienced NCAAs yet? Is there a definite difference being at that regatta compared to others?
Roper: NCAAs is an amazing experience! Other than regionals, it is the only other regatta that we have heats, semifinals and finals. The teams at NCAAs are the best of the best and it is amazing to get to be a part of that. We get to go to a banquet and dress up which is always fun. But I think the coolest and most important thing is that NCAAs is the championship that we work towards all year and we have the chance to show how hard we have worked and how badly we want it.
Question: What would it mean to you to win an NCAA Championship?
Roper: I can honestly say that there is nothing that I want more than to win the team championship! Virginia boats have won the individual events many times but we have never won as a team and I really think that this could be the year we go all the way! Winning NCAAs would mean so much to me because we would go down in the history books and make everyone who supports us proud.
Question: What is your major and your favorite class at UVa?
Roper: I am a psychology major and this may sound random but my favorite class that I have taken here was Greek Mythology. I felt like I was in a story telling class every day!
Question: Your hometown is listed as Reading, St. James, Jamaica, but you also have experience with the Canadian Junior National Team. Can you talk about your career prior to coming to UVa? And also what went into your decision to come to Virginia?
Roper: Well, my siblings and I were born and raised in Jamaica. My dad is Jamaican and my mother is Canadian and so I am a dual citizen. I went to boarding school in Connecticut and before that I had no clue what rowing was but I started rowing there and wasn’t half-bad so in the summer between my junior and senior year I rowed on the junior national team for Canada. During that summer I started to talk to a bunch of college coaches and went on my official visits in the fall of my senior year. Virginia was the last school I visited but the second I came here I knew I would love it! The girls on the team were all welcoming and fun and I really liked what [head coach] Kevin [Sauer] had to say about the team’s goals and values. It didn’t hurt that Virginia is one of the top teams in the country either! I guess I thought it would be really cool to be a part of this team.
Question: What is your proudest athletic achievement?
Roper: Individually, I guess that would be breaking seven minutes for the first time on a 2,000 erg test. But as a team my proudest moment was winning South/Centrals last year after we came up short at the ACC Championship. Everyone worked really hard and it was cool to see that pay off.
Question: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Roper: I love television! In my spare time I try to spend a lot of time with my friends but I love movies and would watch one everyday if I had the time.
Question: Who or what inspires you?
Roper: I know this is cheesy but my teammates inspire me everyday. Rowing is not an easy sport but they manage to do it with a smile on their faces and without them I would not be close to where I am today. Other than my team I would have to say my father. His hard work allows me to attend UVa so I try to repay him by making him proud of my achievements.
Question: What is your favorite place on Grounds?
Roper: The Pav! Food and people watching, what more could you ask for?
Question: If you could “borrow” two attributes from any two teammates, what would you take and from whom?
Roper: I would take Victoria Burke’s relentless determination. No matter how impossible the practice or piece is, she always pushes through it. And because I end up cooking Kraft Mac and Cheese every night I wish I had Caroline Sweeny’s cooking skills.