May 19, 2005
The Washington women's rowing team is preparing for next week's NCAA Championshps, May 27-29 in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The Huskies are one of just four teams to qualify for all nine championship regattas since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997.
Senior Dana Ryan (LaJolla, Calif.) is the coxswain for the varsity eight crew. She missed last year's NCAA Championships due to a setback in her battle with Crohn's disease. Dana spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing her thoughts on the upcoming NCAA Championships.
GoHuskies.com: What was your reaction to the NCAA Championships invitation?
Dana Ryan: "Washington is always the one going to the national championships. It's a lot more satisfying this year actually because we had to sit and wait to find out if we were going to go. When I got the e-mail from Eleanor [McElvaine] Tuesday, I was just ecstatic. This is our chance to go out there and prove what we haven't been able to prove all year."
GoHuskies.com: Only four crews have made it to every NCAA Championship. Do you feel any satisfaction to keeping Washington on that list?
DR "It's definitely an honor to go represent Washington and the history of Washington. Because of what this sport means, not only to the school, but the city of Seattle, it's a great honor to be able to go again."
GoHuskies.com: Why were you unable to attend the NCAA Championships last year?
DR: "I have Crohn's disease, so I had problems with that. It's definitely nice to be able to go this year. It's something that was always in the back of my mind all season. It's great, I'm healthy and I'm really excited to get the chance to go out there."
GoHuskies.com: How have you dealt with that disease since last year?
DR: "It's been on and off. It's never going to be perfect, but I've had a lot of changes in my medicine and things are looking up. I've learned to deal with it a lot better. A lot of it is in your head and knowing what to expect helps a lot."
GoHuskies.com: At what point last season was it determined that you weren't going to be able to go to the NCAA's?
DR: "I found out two days beforehand. I was a mess. I felt like I had worked so hard to come back. The doctors didn't think that I was going to be able to come back to school or row or anything last year. So to come back and make it so close was pretty tough."
GoHuskies.com: Was there a point where you considered quitting the rowing team?
DR: "Probably for about a split-second, laying in the hospital bed one summer, I was like, `there is no way I am going to be able to do crew, go to school, anything.' But I was supported by my teammates, my family and my boyfriend. Everyone has been so wonderful. I couldn't have done it without them."
GoHuskies.com: What has been your motivation to continue doing everything?
DR: "I have a desire to succeed in everything I do. I'm going to go to grad school next year and I really look forward to pursuing my dream to become a sports psychologist. I'm always looking to the next step."
GoHuskies.com: Which graduate school are you planning to attend?
DR: "I'm going to San Diego State, so right back home."
GoHuskies.com: Why did you end up attending the University of Washington?
DR: "There were other schools that I was looking at. Honestly, I came out here and went out on the launches with Eleanor and I was like, `alright, that's it.' There was no doubt in my mind at all. It was an easy decision once I got here."
GoHuskies.com: What is it that makes Washington rowing special?
DR: "The tradition and the history. Just coming here and knowing that so many people's shoulders who have come before you that you're just trying to make them proud every day. We go out there and row not for ourselves, but for Washington."
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on the new Conibear Shellhouse?
DR: "It made last year really worth it. It's an amazing building. I've never seen another boat house quite like it. It was awesome to be a part of the opening."
GoHuskies.com: Do you have any final thoughts you want to add?
DR: "It has worked out well, definitely. And to have one last chance to go out there and show what we've got. Again, like I said, it's an honor. I'm really excited and looking forward to making Washington proud."