Exclusive: Words With NUBC Vice-Pres

VP Beth Newton on going hard or going home

Next up in The Tab Sports Team’s interview chair is Nottingham University Boat Club vice-president Beth Newton. In the first of two exclusive interviews, Beth tells Justin Guthrie about her nine month journey from novice rower to no.2 at the Boat Club, what it feels like to race at Henley and the best thing she has done at University so far.

Tab: Beth, we all saw the posters at Fresher’s Fair telling us “Pussies need not apply” and only “Real men wear yellow” but as a senior, what does it take to be a rower at Nottingham University? Do pussies ever apply?!

Beth: Of course they do, but any that did apply last year got cut pretty quickly! But seriously, we are classified as a performance club; this means we cannot simply have people who dip in and out of the club. It’s go hard or go home!

It is just as much about the individual’s determination mental strength and commitment as it is about the traditionally ‘ideal’ tall and lean build. Take me; I’m only 5”4! Training hard enough can make you into the ideal build.

Tab: As a novice last year who had never rowed previously, how daunting was it to enter a new sport entirely?

Beth: It really helped that everyone who trialled with me were complete novices; I wasn’t the only one who had never been in a boat before! We have supportive and inspiring coaches at NUBC who really help make the challenge of adapting more manageable for the group.

If you put the hard work in, rowing is one of those sports where you can quickly reach the top. Take Heather Stanning – she first climbed into a rowing boat aged 19 at the University of Bath – six years later, she’s an Olympic gold medallist in her home country!

Tab: The stuff dreams are made of. Doubtlessly, that was a day Heather will look back fondly on; have you experienced anything as glorious during your short time at Nottingham?

Beth: My best day as a rower definitely came earlier this year, at the Women’s Head of the River in London. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible and it really helped to drive us on during the gruelling 6km. Our result wasn’t particularly ‘glorious’, but – as we were all novices racing against senior and club level boats – the eight of us were extremely proud with our 208th position [out of a whopping 287]. The sheer size of the river and the race made the whole experience amazing.

Close friends at Henley

Tab: Has there been a worst day? How about those early starts?

Beth: Well, no one would ever believe me if I said I enjoyed waking up at 5am to train in the middle of winter, but I still wouldn’t classify those days among my worst. If anything, a particularly gruelling morning session brings about a greater feeling of accomplishment than a lighter session.

The worst feeling is when, after all the hard work and early starts, we don’t get the result we were hoping for. At times like that, you can’t help but wonder – what was it all for? But then, the very next day, you have a good training session, a constructive debrief from one of the coaches, pull together as a squad and, in the end, a bad day just makes you want to be better.

Tab: For all these ups and downs, what do you get out of rowing?

Beth: It’s just the best thing I’ve done at University, without doubt. There is, of course, so much training but the pride I feel from representing NUBC and training alongside some seriously talented athletes makes it all worthwhile. Training the way we do has also taught me how to push myself to my limits; a pattern that I now apply to all elements of my life. It just makes you want to be the best you can in every domain!

It’s remarkable – though not surprising – just how quickly the team bonds together: like-minded people forced together on a crazy schedule, pulling each-other along and being in the same boat. It’s made me a more focused and driven person. The idea that we novice girls took up a brand new sport at University and then nine months later were competing at a venue as historic as  Henley…doesn’t that just show you can do anything?