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Central University of New Town Sports Spotlight

CUNT is not only known for its quality educational programs, but it also has a highly skilled group of athletes and high quality sports teams, many of which have brought back awards from tournaments all over the region and even the nation. Every so often we will choose one athlete or team at random, from those submitted by staff members, to feature on this page. These spotlights are more in-depth than the Staff Spotlight, similar to the way Student Spotlights are, as they are written about them and their experiences here at CUNT by a senior student from our journalism department, and a senior student from our photography department takes the accompanying pictures.

Featured CUNT Athlete or Team
For former Featured Athletes and Teams see the Sports Spotlight Archives.

Nicole Durham – Crew

If any of you have been down to the lake in the last couple years, you most likely have seen today's spotlight in training or even in competition. As a proud leading member of the Central University of New Town Crew Rowing Team and active member of the Competitive Canoeing Club, she is usually found out on the water when the weather is even slightly cooperative. She is even out there in the rain if it's not too cold out. It's that dedication and skill that brought her to our attention and made us decide to give her this spotlight.

Although Crew is not one of the top sports here at Central U (ranking well below the median in the national averages), that doesn't mean we don't have our star members. Nicole is at the head of that short star members list. Her skills on the water have garnered her attention from all over, including being asked to try out for the next Olympic trials. She is also highly active in amateur competitive canoeing and kayaking, wanting one day to make it into the Olympics in one of those categories.

Mainly performing for the school as a member of an eight-man sweep or four-man sculling crew in the engine room during official races, Nicole's passion is performing in the singles and doubles sculling categories. She says she feels most alive when it's just her or her and a partner out there against the world. Plus she likes the fact that these smaller boats are Coxless, so nobody is yelling at her the whole time.

Over the last two and a half years she's been on the team, Nicole has only ever missed two tournaments and a handful of practices. All of these were when she was out injured in her Sophomore year for nearly a month. The wash from a Waverunner going far too fast near the practicing team cause the shell to buck and Nicole's head was slammed into the saxboard—missing the sharp edges of her oarlock by inches. Because her shoes were locked into the footchock at the time, she was unable to adjust her body and catch herself in time to stop the impact.

Although the scar is gone and she has fully healed, the incident still haunts her to this day. Every time she sees another powerboat on the lake (anywhere near them) she starts to get irate and will often go on vulgar yelling sprees to try and drive them away from the area. This activity has earned her the nickname of "The Tongue" with the rest of the team. A nickname that has even started to show up on some of the betting shits they have made for recent competitions.

If you are unfamiliar with the tradition of betting shirts among crew teams in competitions, it is a long practiced tradition in the sport. After a big match between teams, the losers would give their racing shirts to the winners as souvenirs. In less competitive matches the two teams will sometimes just trade shirts after the match to have similar souvenirs. In more recent years it has become standard practice for many teams to have special event shirts made specifically for these shit bet matches, marking the specifics of the event it was won or lost at.

When women's crew started to become a more active sport in colleges and under the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the legality of shirt bets were brought into question. Although some found the idea of them troublesome for females, the bylaws of the NCAA clearly upheld the rights of these bets to exist, leaving it up to each team to decide to participate or not. As it currently stands, the majority of teams do still participate in them, at least during national-level intercollegiate events.

Central U students certainly had no problems with the bets, even though they have generally lost more of them than they've won. They are well-known for their creative shirt designs for these events, making them much sought-after prizes whenever Central U competes at these events.

When we approached Nicole about doing this spotlight she wanted to make sure we didn't just cover her work on the Central U Crew Team and even invited us back to the boathouse to shoot pictures with her real passion. We agreed and was greeted with the sight of the fully restored classic wooden racing canoe and oars you see in these images. We loved the look of the boat so much we knew we had to use it in our profile, having her posing with it. She was more than happy to do so.

As stated before, Crew may be the official school sport Nicole is involved in, but canoeing and kayaking are her real passions. Her work with (and mostly running) the Competitive Canoeing Club is where her heart really lies. She has been lobbying for two years to get canoeing and kayaking added to the schools official sports teams, but so far has to settle with doing it through the CCC. The club currently has nine members (including Nicole) and only competes in amateur events within a day's travel distance from campus, with hopes of expanding that range in the coming year.

So far the CCC has garnered more wins than the school's Crew team, even with the limited range and number of events it can attend, which Nicole hopes to use as leverage in her attempts to get the school to accept the sport into the college's roster. Her own personal current record within the club is an amazing fourteen wins and three losses at official events this year alone. The club overall has a nearly sixty-five percent win rate, which is unheard of for such a small team.

When not actively competing or training for events and able to get away from school for any length of time, Nicole can usually be found out kayaking in the open waters of the Puget Sound or along one of the numerous rivers in our region. If you are at all interested in kayaking, you might want to stop by a CCC meeting and see when the next one of her excursions are going to take place. She always loves to take company with her and even does training level trips for novices, saving the more difficult trips for her expert friends.

Even during the winter months you will find her out there on the water in some form. Nicole is truly at home leaning back in a small boat with the shaft of an oar in her hand. I would bet she would live in one if it were possible. Her dream is to one day live on a small sailing boat to travel around the world, from Alaska to the Antarctic (making sure to hit every warm place inbetween), and take her kayaks out to explore every river and waterway she can find until she's too old to hold a paddle.

Until that day, however, we are lucky to have such a special specimen here at Central U and should get out there and support our Crew next time they are competing on the lake. Trust me, it's worth seeing, even if they lose.

If you have any interest in joining Crew or the CCC, head down to the lake and ask around at the boathouse or contact the head of athletics in the main office. The team and club are always looking for new members and are happy to train and welcome any who are truly interested.

For more Featured Athletes and Teams see the Sports Spotlight Archives.
Last modified on 2014/6/17 by Admin
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